Rose Ross helped establish the Association of the Holy Family in the New England area almost three decades ago. One of her fondest memories is when she and other associates helped produce a Christmas play written by an older Sister. According to Rose, “the play in all its simplicity was a complete success.”
How were you called to be an associate?
I answered a request in our church’s bulletin for volunteers for the Pope John Paul II Center [a skilled nursing facility in Danbury, CT, now called St. John Paul II Center]. Because I was a teacher in the public schools, the only time that I could volunteer was during the summer. It was then that I met Sr. Frances Smalkowski. She demonstrated compassion toward the sick and dying. I knew immediately that this is where I belonged.
Our vocation team often talks about how we are called to love. How do you feel you are called to love?
Prayer has always been an important factor in my life. This was instilled in me from my parents. They insisted on a Catholic education from elementary through college. During this time, the Sisters of Mercy had a deep impact on my spiritual development.
What have you learned from being an associate?
When I first became an associate, I was thrilled to have some contact with religious. I needed them and they reciprocated with love and affection for me. Many of the Associates joined in prayer. The chapel was so accessible.
What have you learned from the CSFN sisters?
I am impressed by the prayerfulness of the sisters. Many of them need wheelchairs or walkers. Yet, rarely do they complain and they always welcome me during my visits to the infirmary. They probably look upon the associates as “angels of mercy” – I look upon the sisters as “angels.”
How has being an associate deepened your prayer life and your spirituality?
God is first in my life. When I reach heaven, I hope to be greeted with the words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” Also, the example of the other associates has deepened my spirituality. Many of them have experienced health issues, but still attend our meetings.
How do you live and share the CSFN charism in your own life and in your own family?
For me, the term “family” means a broad spectrum of relationships. I often think of the students in my classes who confided in me for help. Through prayer, with the Holy Family speaking through me, I was able to convey the help that was needed.
Families are the heart of the CSFN mission. How do you see yourself touching families and living the CSFN mission?
There are challenges in all families. I try to focus upon the sacred moments that all families experience.