A Reflection on Rosaryville
By DAVID DRUDE
Rosaryville Board Member
Back in the 60’s, I was enrolled in piano lessons with Sister Mary John at Rosaryville. This was before St. Johns Hall was built and the old wooden convent had not been torn down yet. My mom would pick me up from St. Joseph’s Catholic School and bring me down the long winding drive past the Spanish Dominicans cemetery and up to the main building. She would drop me off and usually come back later.
I would enter from the west side and I remember how large the halls seemed to a kid in the 4th grade. It always felt cool and so quiet and peaceful in there. Even in the summer, the thick tile and stucco walls seemed to give off a cool and peaceful feeling. We didn’t have air conditioning back then. We had to put up with whatever God provided. Funny, I don’t remember feeling the heat like we do today.
I would wait in the outer room until Sister entered. I remember wondering how she could stand all the heat with that habit, but I wasn’t brave enough to ask. I knew she was old, but to a kid, I did not know for sure. She would always ask if I had been practicing and I could usually answer “yes” because my mother would see to that. I’m not sure how long the lessons were, probably 45 minutes to an hour.
One day, another Sister showed up for my lesson. She said Sister Mary John did not feel well. Pretty soon, they told me that she would not be able to teach anymore and I didn’t see her again.
Someone called my mom to let us know that Sister had passed and to ask if we would like to come to the funeral. That was the first time I had been upstairs to the chapel. All the sisters were there. They gave me a rosary that Sister had left me that had been blessed by the Pope. I learned that her name had been Kennedy and she was a cousin to President Kennedy. It made me wonder how someone who had come from such a family, could give it all up and become a nun.
Although I continued taking lessons for several more years, I lost interest in the piano. I guess I grew out of it. I never felt that it was cool to play the piano.
I have been lucky to know many of the sisters over the years and I am a little sad to see them moving on with the passage of time. When I visit, I feel a sense of peace, that they are still wandering those halls in spirit.
Sister is buried in the cemetery at Rosaryville and I try to visit her grave when I am on retreat or just volunteering. It is amazing how little Rosaryville has changed. I hope that it will continue to be a prayerful place of peace and solitude.