Sr. Rosa Rauth, OP
I rejoiced when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
For the sake of my brothers and friends I say, “Peace be with you.”
For the sake of the house of the Lord, our God, I pray for your good.
Psalm 122:1, 8–9
Name: Sr. Rosa Rauth, OP
Hometown: Oak Park, Illinois
Professed: August 5, 1950
Interests/hobbies: Crossword puzzles, writing letters and parodies, reading, music, math, radio, proofreading
Fun facts: Wheel of Fortune contestant, 1987
Various ministries: Friend, organist, piano teacher, and educator in colleges, and secondary and elementary schools. Sr. Rosa has taught music, math (secondary), choir, chorus, and liturgical music.
q. Sister, how did you discover your vocation?
a. Math and music have been part of my life for as long as I can remember. They were essential studies in grade school, reinforced in high school, and my majors in college. Educated in Catholic schools, I enjoyed instruction from the Ursuline nuns in grade school and from the Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa (Wisconsin) in high school and college. We prayed for vocations, but I was praying for someone else! I did not suspect that a religious life was in my future.
Around sixth grade, I felt a deep sense of gratitude to God when we learned the Beatitudes: “If you… (name it) …your reward will be great in heaven.” It was fun to pretend we had entered a convent. Just before eighth-grade graduation in 1940, two of us wrote a class prophesy in the form of a newspaper, the 1950 Ascension Prognosticator. One article said two of us had joined the “Sisters of Saint Journal” and had become “Journalists.”
I have many memories of high school. As a freshman, I was amazed that our homeroom sister helped us out of our coats so we wouldn’t be late. I also recall that my Latin teacher arranged for me to miss her class once a week so I could take cello-playing lessons in order to join the orchestra she directed. We students often worked on the school paper through the supper hour. My graduation from high school fell on a historic date: June 6, 1944—D-Day, the Normandy landings that occurred in World War II.
Rosary College (in River Forest, Illinois) provided many opportunities for me to strengthen my faith. My extracurricular activities included teaching catechism at a grade school, collaborating with Dominican priests and brothers in musicals at a high school, and participating in four weeks of street preaching in North Carolina. When a field trip to the motherhouse was offered, I went along for the ride. The idea of a religious vocation was always in the back of my mind, and though I pushed it aside, it persisted. In my senior year, a few weeks before graduation in 1948, my feelings toward religious life shifted. My parents were surprised when I told them.
My mother suggested I wait a year. A few weeks later—in June 1948—I attended the Catholic Evidence convention out of state and met a priest who was a street preacher. We chatted at a gathering to help me come to a decision about whether to enter the convent in September or a year later. He advised me to make a holy hour on August 4, St. Dominic’s feast day at the time. As a result of accepting his long-distance spiritual direction, I entered the convent at Sinsinawa on September 5, 1948. I made my first profession on August 5, 1950, and my perpetual profession on August 5, 1953. Last year marked my seventieth jubilee of profession. Providence did provide. Deo gratias!
q. What role does prayer play in your life today?
a. I am convinced that everything I do is a prayer. The Morning Offering gives Jesus my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings for the intentions of his sacred heart. Whatever I do for anyone else is accepted as done for God.
At the motherhouse, I play the organ for our liturgies several times a week. Our Dominican common prayer includes chants and hymns. I pray that my music assists others in their prayers. Before evening prayer, we have the recitation of the rosary. Daily meditation on the events of the lives of Jesus and Mary has always been a vital part of my life. I have grown to have a deep desire to have actually been there. When the host and the chalice are raised during Mass, I bow with gratitude that Christ can be with us in the Eucharist.
For many years I said a prayer with my piano students before their lessons: “Make us saints and good musicians.” Music helps me raise my thoughts to God. I consider it a special kind of prayer. It makes God feel close.
In my private prayer, I am aware of God’s presence when I hear classical music on the radio or see the beautiful grounds surrounding us at Sinsinawa Mound. Sunrises, sunsets, and moonsets can be so inspiring. Spiritual reading also lifts my heart in private prayer. I give thanks to God for all the blessings I have received, for the talents which I can still share, and for all the people in my life. Frequently I petition the saints for assistance, especially my sister, who died before I was born. I think she would have enjoyed solving our puzzles with me.
q. How have you experienced God’s goodness in your life of ministry?
a. Jesus said, “I am the vine. You are the branches” (John 15:5). God is so good to rely on human beings to help spread his word. Every day brings signs of his love for us. In my teaching, I learned that each student has a different personality. Each reflects God’s goodness in his or her own way. I have watched children grow up, become adults, take responsibilities, and value my part in their lives. Whenever people write to me, I see their actions as inspired by God. I think of friendship as part of our relationship with God.
Who else could have given a sense of humor to human beings? I am convinced God intends for us to use our sense of humor. That is quite a gift! People’s talents, hobbies, and interests relate to their individuality, which comes from God. Therefore, I experience God’s goodness in everyone.
q. What return can you make to God for all he has given you?
a. Early in life, I understood that each person has unique skills and interests that are given by God. What a boring time we would have if everyone was made exactly the same! So, we owe a debt of gratitude to God for what we are given and should take advantage of opportunities to develop these talents and interests. No need to wait until retirement age. It is a lifelong journey. What I do in the future has been with me as long as I can remember. I plan to continue to do what I can for as long as I can, to “die with my boots on.”
I hope to be able to go back to teaching piano to children and adults who live in our tri-state area. COVID-19 restrictions have caused a hiatus in welcoming visitors to our motherhouse. I continue to take my turns as an organist several times each week. I give prayerful support to others by writing letters of friendship, encouragement, sympathy, congratulations, thanks, etc. I forward humorous items that come in my email in an effort to share a smile with others. If anyone asks my help, I am willing to oblige. When I was old enough to write my response to the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I answered: “a swimmer and dancer.” As I grew a little older, it became: “a teacher.” Recently my response has evolved to “a friend.” Circumstances change. We must adapt and make new decisions. God deserves all my efforts to reflect his goodness, to, as stated by St. John Henry Cardinal Newman and St. Mother Teresa, “spread his fragrance everywhere.”