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Sister Mary Rosario remembered for inspiration, humor and dedication

Sister Mary Rosario remembered for inspiration, humor and dedication - (04-10-2017)

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Benedictine Sister of Perpetual Adoration Mary Rosario Martinez, OSB passed away on Oct. 2, 2017. She was born on Jan. 18, 1929, in Truchas, New Mexico, to Manuel and Rosarito Vigil Martinez and given the name Petrita. She had four brothers and three sisters.

She attended public school until the eighth grade when she transferred to Loretto Academy in Santa Fe. After graduation, she worked in her parents’ general store for several years, honing skills in preparation for a career in business. She also helped out at the local post office where her father was the postmaster. Besides helping in the family business, she took time to travel with her siblings and friends.

“These were very happy years for me,” she once said. “I never considered religious life when I was young even though I came from a large family of committed Catholics. I went to a Catholic boarding school and admired the nuns as educators, but that’s all the contact I had with them. So, it’s a great mystery how I was called to this life. It proves that a person must listen to her inner spirit.”

An innocent purchase at a local bookstore would eventually change her career plans. She bought a booklet published by the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, which started a chain reaction of letters asking for more information, and, in return, getting additional literature and booklets.

“They sent me this one booklet, which I read, then put away for four years,” she said. “When I was 25 I attended a mission that discussed vocations, and it got me thinking.”  She went home, found the booklet and read it once again. The next letter she wrote to the Sisters was to ask if she could join them. They quickly replied, “yes,” and she entered by the end of the month. Even though she had never seen a Benedictine or knew anything about monastic life, she felt that a community dedicated to prayer was what she wanted.

“It happened so fast,” she said. “The Lord really must have wanted to catch me. It proves that you can’t push. Just listen to the spirit. If God really calls you, you’ll know it.”

She entered in 1955, made her first monastic profession on Oct. 5, 1957, and was given the name Sister Mary Rosario. She made her final monastic profession exactly five years later.

“The early years of formation were challenging times for me, moving to a new place and living with a group of women I knew very little about,” she said. “However, they set an extraordinary example of how different people from different backgrounds can learn to live together. They also allowed me to be myself, and I admired them for that.”

During her time as a Benedictine Sister, she spent time at the communities in Clyde, Missouri; Kansas City, Missouri; St. Louis; San Diego; and Tucson, Arizona. She worked a variety of jobs including bookkeeper, portress, cook, librarian, in the printery and altar bread departments. Her leadership roles included serving as sub-prioress, administrator of the St. Louis monastery and on the general council. She attended classes in theology and monasticism at the University of Dallas.

It was her years in San Diego that inspired a fellow Sister and led to a special collaboration. Sister Mary Rosario liked mouse figurines and soon her friends began contributing to her collection. She eventually had mice figurines from all over the United States and from Spain, Italy and Germany.

Sister Mary Angela Toigo, OSB composed a poem to honor Sister Mary Rosario’s collection in verse. It was so well-received that Sister Mary Rosario suggested she consider turning the story of the contemplative and inspirational little mouse into a book. “God and a Mouse” went on to become published in a dozen languages and has been sold throughout the world, this book can be bought at The book depository.

“The book was a result of the gifts of Sister Angela and artist Ted De Grazia,” Sister Mary Rosario once said. “I was simply the inspiration.”

A professed admirer of things like Ziggy cartoons, classical music, puzzles and flowers, Sister Mary Rosario learned to take life a bit more slowly in later years. She was a survivor of two bouts of cancer which did nothing to dampen her sense of humor. 

During her time at Our Lady of Rickenbach healthcare facility, she was often seen working on jig-saw puzzles and visiting with fellow Sisters, guests and lay employees. She had humor and genuine warmth that reached out to others in seemingly effortless ways. She was known to have saved many a vocation when she was in charge of the kitchen and worked with novices. She would also tell stories of all the pranks she used to pull in her early years as a Sister. A niece remarked to her on the occasion of her 50th Jubilee, “You’re a nun, but you’re a fun nun.” 

Sister Mary Rosario is survived by her brothers Manuel and Gilbert, many nieces and nephews and her monastic family. Her funeral liturgy and burial at Mount Calvary Cemetery are scheduled for Oct. 5, 2017.