Sisters of St. Joseph of CarondeletMay 25, 2020

Sisters' Stories

Sister Mary Rose Fox, CSJ

My vocation story starts in my home parish of St. Mary’s in Coxsackie, New York.

The Sisters of Mercy came from Ravena to religious education classes in the  church on Saturday mornings at 10:00 a.m. This was ongoing through most of years in grade school.

In seventh grade, after we were granted bus transportation, I went to St. Patrick’s School in Ravena for seventh and eighth grades.

In eighth grade, the teacher was Sister Mary Bernice who was also principal of the school and superior at the convent. I believe that Sister Mary Bernice knew I had a vocation before I did. I was in eighth grade and didn’t know anything about such things!

I soon discovered when Sister Mary Bernice was always after me to go to Vincentian Institute in Albany that she felt I had a vocation.

At this time in Greene County, St. Patrick’s Central Catholic High School in Catskill had just been dedicated, and the Greene County parishes all were committed to the school in terms of supporting it financially. On many occasions Sister and I would have the same discussion: “You need to go to VI,” and I would

say “I don’t have bus transportation to go to VI and the parishes of Greene County are supporting a brand new high school in Catskill that I would have transportation to!”

I used to say also “Sister, do you want me to walk to Albany”! This conversation went on through my entire eighth grade. Sister’s response was always that the Sisters of St. Joseph were staffing the school with teachers. I didn’t realize until much later how much that really bothered her.

I graduated from eighth grade in 1962 and went to St. Patrick’s High School in Catskill. I rode the bus to St. Patrick’s for four years and enjoyed the school and the Sisters of St. Joseph very much!

During junior year, I was surprised again to find out that Sister Marie Jose Hickey was also thinking of my vocation, whether I was or not! Sister Marie Jose, who taught American History, said to me one day: “ You should get a Regents diploma; you may need it later.” I said, “I’m in the school program and not the Regents program.”  Sister Marie said “I have a plan!” Sister did indeed have a plan!

Father George St. John was our principal, and Sister Anna Laurentia was the assistant principal. Sister Marie went right to Father St. John to have me changed to a Regents program. When I said I could never do a Regents in math or science, Sister had already mapped out the Regents subjects she knew I would be able to take. Once more, I begin to realize that I was praying and seeking to enter the Sisters of St. Joseph. As time went by the decision was made. The Sisters at St. Patrick’s were very supportive. Sister Francis Anne Gilchrist became my sponsor. I was delighted also to enter with Cathy Sickler from Kingston. 

Graduation was in June 1966 and I, indeed, received that Regents diploma “that I may need later,” thanks to Sister Marie Jose. 

In June 1967 during our postulant year, something happened that had never happened before. We could go on a home visit! It was for my family a “God moment”! The weekend chosen was my parent’s 25th wedding anniversary, so I was able to go, and my parents were so excited. We had a great celebration that they talked about forever!  

I also went to St. Patrick’s Convent in Ravena shortly before it closed to see Sister Mary Bernice who was in retirement there. I was glad we went because it was the last time I saw her before her death. Sister said “ I am so happy for you that you entered the Sisters of St. Joseph. I always knew you had a vocation; I just am sorry it wasn’t as a Sister of Mercy.” 

 I’ve always wondered what Sister saw in me in the eighth grade!