Late in the evening of February 22, 2013, drawn by the powers of Heaven, with God’s wisdom to guide her, God’s hand to guard her, and the way to God lying before her, our sister, Rosemary, took leave of those whom she loved in this life and readied herself to proclaim the ancient words that would herald her entrance into eternal life: Thagann chun cinn agam inniu – “I arise today.”
From the day of her birth, on June 30, 1935, Rosemary took great delight in surprising others. Joined by her beloved twin brother, Robert, she truly amazed her unsuspecting parents, Michael and Mary Agnes (Mulligan) Small) as only twins can do. As the treasured daughter of first generation Irish immigrants, Rosemary was baptized at St. Leo’s Parish, dedicated to the Trinity, and entrusted to the care of Mary, Queen of Ireland. Full of wonder and curiosity, she possessed a keen intellect, a gentle sense of humor, a kind heart and a determined spirit. Welcoming the birth of her dear sister Nancy, she enthusiastically assumed the role of lifelong “big sister” and readily embraced the values of her faith-filled, devoted and hard-working family. Growing up in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago’s south side in the aftermath of the Great Depression, Rosemary’s childhood was lived amidst the uncertainties and insecurities of a world at war. Ever mindful of her own Irish heritage and immigrant roots, she learned from an early age to be attentive to issues of justice and human dignity. Making the most of every opportunity made available to her at Sacred Heart Parish, Rosemary attached herself with great affection to the Joliet Franciscan Sisters who fostered in her a growing sense of her own vocation to religious life.