June 13, 2023 | Your Stories
Fr. Stephen Van Lal Than

Sr. Rosánne Spalding, OSU, participates in the wedding of Dalton and Lydea (Dickens) Howard at Sts. Joseph and Paul Parish in Owensboro. COURTESY OF DICKENS FAMILY

Parish staff remember ‘Sr. Boss’ Sr. Rosánne Spalding


Sr. Rosánne Spalding, OSU, an Ursuline Sister of Mount Saint Joseph, died Tuesday, May 16, 2023, at Mount Saint Joseph, in her 62nd year of religious life at the age of 80. Ever joyful, Sister Rosanne’s life was devoted to leading people to Jesus, especially preparing children and adults to receive the sacraments. She made beautiful quilts to benefit her community.

She taught at Mary Carrico School, Knottsville (1967-69), St. Peter of Alcantara School, Stanley (1976-78), and at Precious Blood School (1969-70, 1980-82), Owensboro, serving as principal there from 1978-80. She was director of religious education at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish (1986-98), and from 1998-2023, she was pastoral associate and director of religious education at Precious Blood Parish. She also ministered elsewhere in Kentucky and in Nebraska.

Fr. Suneesh Mathew, pastor of Precious Blood Parish, wrote the following in the bulletin of the sister they affectionately referred to as “Sr. Boss.”

“Sr. Rosánne, the ‘BOSS.’ It’s unimaginable to know that our beloved Sr. Rosánne is no more with us. She was diagnosed with Cancer on April 19 and she died on May 16, just 28 days after the diagnosis. We thank the Lord that she didn’t suffer much as we know bone cancer is one of the most painful cancers.  Sister had a great attitude to suffering. I once texted sister saying, ‘I hate to see you in pain – I hope a remedy comes up soon’ to which she responded, ‘I just think of the suffering Jesus did for me and through my suffering I tell Him thanks for His love and that helps me mentally.’ She stayed at her home until May 14. Sitting in her chair in her house with lots of pain, Sister continued to help me by reminding me of the different things that have to be taken care of. She handed back to me her church and office keys on May 13, the day before she left to move to the Mount – the keys that she has been using for the last 25 years. She said ‘it’s very hard.’

“We are all pencils in the hand of a loving God who is writing a love story in the world. God wrote numerous love stories with the pencil of Sr. Rosánne. She was a gracious person who spread God’s love in whatever she did, starting with baptismal preparations, preparing kids for first confession, First Holy Communion, Confirmation, youth group, CCD, RCIA, homebound ministry, St. Benedict’s Homeless Shelter, and the list goes on. She always wanted to help. I remember one time toward the end of March she was already having hip problems, but I didn’t know how bad it was as she never complained. I asked Sister one day if she could get some hamburgers for the men’s club as they were remodeling one of the classrooms. She said yes, she will. But Michelle, our office manager, heard it and said ‘No Father, maybe I will get it because Sister can’t even walk.’ I didn’t realize she was in that much pain. So, I went to Sister and said, ‘Sister you should have told me that you are in pain, I could have just gotten the hamburgers myself.’ She said ‘I know you are busy, so I want to help.’ Even in that pain she wanted to be a help. Sister Rosánne was a joy on our pastoral team. She always made our team meetings joyful and interesting as she was called our BOSS.

“When Bishop Medley appointed me here at Precious Blood in 2016, the first person I met and talked about the parish was Sister Rosánne. I was still at St. Stephen Cathedral and one day I went to her house and she spoke all great things about Precious Blood and I couldn’t just wait to be here. She loved the parish and the people. One of her desires was that she wanted to work at Precious Blood until she died, and her wish was fulfilled.

“One of the most certain things of life is death which goes with the uncertainty of when. But we all know that death is the door to life and fulfilment. The Gospel reading Sister Rosánne chose for her funeral was from St. John 14:1-6 where Jesus assures his disciples ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled, Have faith in God also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places… I will come back and take you to myself.’ Sister Rosánne had the deepest faith in God and in Jesus and she believed in the many rooms that Jesus promised. She paid for her heavenly room already with her life and ministry here on earth. Even though we will miss her tremendously she will watch us from heaven above. She will intercede for us. Rest in peace dear Sr. Boss.”

April Dickens, the bookkeeper at Sts. Joseph and Paul Parish in Owensboro, and lifelong member of Precious Blood, wrote the following passage on Facebook.

“For the past 25 years Sr. Rosánne has been a huge part of our family. Although it is hard to believe she is gone, we are thankful that she is no longer suffering. We have so many memories, births, and adoptions of our kids, baptisms, (especially always remembering Lydea was baptized on her birthday. Lydea never forgot it either!) birthdays, first reconciliation and First Communions, religious education classes, RCIA classes, youth group meetings and trips, ODYC, NCYC, YOUTH 2000, working Thursday night bingo, retreats at Mount Saint Joseph, Confirmations, graduations, deaths, weddings, births of our first two grandbabies, Easter egg hunts, Christmas caroling to homebound, trunk or treat, recycling paper, prizes for the kids, stuffed animal booth at MSJ picnic, Vacation Bible School, fish fries, letting our kids sit with her at Mass and making them all feel so special, and praying for our family any time we asked and even when we didn’t, and for so many more countless things.

“I am forever grateful for Sr. Rosánne’s friendship, love and example of faithfulness. The love and compassion she showed to the families and children she served will be deeply missed. It amazes me that even through her pain and suffering she was able to attend First Communion just a few weeks before her death.  A testament to her faithfulness to her vocation. Annual trips to Holiday World will not be the same without her. We will miss seeing her there on HER bench (if you know, you know), waiting to make sure we all checked out and headed home! Thank you for teaching our family and countless others by your example and 60+ years of religious life what it means to be a Christian.”

Sr. Rosánne Spalding, OSU, at the First Communion of Westyn Dickens in May 2022. COURTESY OF DICKENS FAMILY

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Publisher |  Bishop William F. Medley
Editor |  Elizabeth Wong Barnstead
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