Sister Rosemary McGowan
1931 – 2021
Born: 29th September 1931
Entered Religious Life: 11th July 1960
Died: 30th December 2021
Rosemary Mc Gowan was born on the 29th September 1931 in Glasgow to James and Elizabeth Mc Gowan. She was the first born of ten children. She lived in Scotland until she was nineteen years of age. The family then moved to Ireland. Before she entered she qualified as a Secondary school teacher and also held a Pitman’s shorthand and typing diploma and taught in Eccles Street school for a few years.
Rosemary entered the Religious Sisters of Charity in Milltown on the 11th July 1960 and was received into the Novitiate on the 31st January 1961 receiving the name Sr. Marie Fidelis. She was professed on the 1st February 1963. After her profession she joined the community in Milltown where she taught in the Commercial school from February 1963 until 1965. Most of Rosemary’s life was spent in the field of Education at Second level and as chaplain in two of the Dublin Institutes of Technology. From 1965 -1988 she lived in the following communities and ministered in the schools as Principal: Ballaghaderreen, Harold’s Cross, Mountjoy Street and Basin Lane and also as Local Leader in Basin Lane and Mountjoy Street.
Rosemary lived out the motto of the Congregation “Caritas Christi urget nos” throughout her religious life. She was kind and caring towards the pupils in her care. She had a deep respect for them and wanted them to carve out a better future for themselves, than the one they might have had without education. Her humanity and compassion shone wherever she ministered. There were many tributes paid to her on the RIP website by former staffs and pupils.
In 1988-1990 she was missioned to Harold’s Cross and was appointed chaplain to the Dublin Institute of Technology where she ministered to the staff and pupils. Her work there was greatly appreciated by all in the Diocese and the chaplains from those college attended her funeral. In 1990 she was appointed Local Leader in Crumlin and she continued her ministry as chaplain in DIT. Rosemary was elected as a member of the Provincial Leadership Team in in 1993. She embraced this ministry with great enthusiasm. She lived in Richmond Road at this time and ministered in Bolton Street Institute of Technology. She found this ministry very enriching and often spoke about the many happy years she spent in this role.
Rosemary went on sabbatical in January 2000. It was a wonderful year for her visiting her family in the U. S. and attending Wellsprings Centre of Spirituality for three months. The highlight of her sabbatical was the three months she spent in the Holy Land. She cherished every minute of her time there and she would often speak about her experience there and the impact it had on her life. In fact she loved to talk about the Holy Land up to the time she died.
In 2001 she returned to Ireland after her sabbatical and was appointed Co-ordinator of the newly established Mary Aikenhead Heritage Centre, in Harold’s Cross. This was such a joy to her and she warmly welcomed many, many groups from home and abroad to the centre. In the early years there would be two or three groups visiting the Centre each day. There was always positive feedback from the visitors and many sent thank you cards and letters to say how much they enjoyed their visit. Many visitors would have been past pupils of our schools. She delighted in knowing that Mary Aikenhead’s story and the motto of the Congregation was being kept alive and spreading to many parts of the world. Sr. Rosemary spent nine very happy years ministering in Heritage Centre. During that time Rosemary was appointed non- resident Local Leader in Richmond Road.
In June 2011 she was missioned to Caritas and from there she went to Naomh Bríd where she lived until July 2020. While there, she was engaged in ministry in Gardiner Street and King’s Inn Street school. Her health began to fail and she needed more care. She went to Belmont Nursing Home in July 2020 where she was very content. Unfortunately, this was during the Covid restrictions when visiting was not permitted. This must have been hard on Rosemary and of course on us as her community, and her family and friends but we managed to keep in contact through letters, cards, phone calls and window visits when these were permitted. Rosemary never ceased to marvel at the wonderful care she was receiving and was always so gracious to the staff. They called her “the lovely lady, Sr. Rosemary.” When lockdown was lifted and we visited Rosemary she delighted in pointing out to her visitors the wonderful view she had from her window.
Sr. Rosemary had a deep love for her siblings and their families. She was interested in each one and was very proud of all their achievements. They in turn returned their love and were very attentive to her always. She spent many happy holidays with them and was in constant communication with them.
Rosemary was a very dedicated Sister of Charity. She was blest with a lovely personality. She was a wonderful community Sister, always so cheerful and optimistic. She had a great love of nature and was a wonderful conversationalist.
On the 30th December Sr. Rosemary died unexpectedly but very peacefully in the care of the dedicated staff in Belmont Nursing Home. It was a shock to her family and community. Her Mass was celebrated on the 4th January 2022 in the Church of the Sacred Heart, Donnybrook. Sr. Una O’ Neill gave a beautiful reflection on her life which was very much appreciated by her family. The condolences on the RIP website described her as a very caring person, a lovely lady and a true daughter of Mary Aikenhead. She was buried in the community cemetery in Donnybrook. May songs of the angels welcome her to Heaven.