Entered the Sisters of the Holy Cross from Washington, DC on July 29, 1943
Initial Profession of Vows on February 2, 1946
Sister Rose Marie Canty was blessed by God with length of years. She died in the month before her 95th birthday. Sister had a variety of talents which she used extensively in over 74 years of consecrated life as a Sister of the Holy Cross. She was reared in a close Catholic family by parents, Margaret (Creamer) and Owen F. Canty, and had four siblings: Kathleen, Mary Margaret, Frieda, and Owen. Rose Marie was born in the small town of Midland, in Western Maryland. Midland, which borders Pennsylvania and West Virginia, had been known for its coal-mining and strip-mining industry. Those who know her family find in them her same strong concern for the poor and for social justice. When the family moved from Midland to Paradise, Maryland to Washington, D.C. in 1936, Rose Marie entered grade six at St. Peter’s School, staffed by the Sisters of the Holy Cross, on Capitol Hill. After completing grade school, she attended another Holy Cross school, St. Patrick’s Academy in Washington, D.C., noted for its excellent business curriculum, graduating in 1943. Answering a call from God, she then entered the Sisters of the Holy Cross, Notre Dame, Indiana, and was given the name Sister Marie Pierre upon reception of the holy habit six months later. Following her initial profession of vows, she taught in elementary and secondary schools of the Congregation in New York City; Washington, DC; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Norfolk, Virginia. During summers, she earned her BA in business administration at Dunbarton College in Washington, D.C. and continued with post-graduate classes in accounting and financial management at reputable universities. She was a life-long learner, especially in areas of spiritual and personal development. Around 1968 she chose to reclaim her baptismal name in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council.
From 1957–1989, Sister Rose Marie, in the second and longest phase of her ministerial life, served in various fiscal capacities involving leadership responsibilities. Among the positions she held were the following: Eastern Region treasurer and councilor for the Sisters of the Holy Cross; treasurer of Catholic Social Services in Columbus, Ohio; vice-president for finance at Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana; and treasurer of Dunbarton College, Washington, DC. She served on the Boards of Trustees for Dunbarton College and Cardinal Cushing College in Boston, Massachusetts. Her managerial and organizational skills, as well as her compassionate concern for others, made her well-suited for these leadership positions.
Sister Rose Marie valued prayer, both contemplative and group prayer. She was energized by the Second Vatican Council whose teachings and spirit she lived in her daily life. Building on her long-held appreciation for the writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, she had an evolutionary consciousness, looking forward to ultimate spiritual transformation of all in the Cosmic Christ.
From 1990–2006, in the third phase of her active ministry, Sister Rose Marie addressed issues of systemic injustice, bolstered by her close friend, Sister Ellen Dolores Lynch, CSC, at the Quixote Center, a justice and peace ministry located in College Park, Maryland. Involvement in direct work for justice and for the poor was a great joy for her. This period of advocacy occurred during her so-called retirement years until she was 81 years of age. This small and gentle woman did not fit the stereotype of non-violent protesters often portrayed in the media, nor did other Holy Cross sisters standing on the U.S. Capitol steps with her.
Sister Rose Marie moved to Saint Angela Hall in Kensington, Maryland, in 2006, where she was engaged in prayer and ministry to her community of women religious while remaining in close contact with family and friends. In January of 2014 she retired to Saint Mary’s Convent, Notre Dame, Indiana, where her devotion to prayer and thirst for justice continued along with frequent visits from her devoted family. Sister Rose Marie completed her journey to God, dying at Saint Mary’s Convent in the early evening of July 21, 2020, attended by her many Holy Cross sisters. The whole earth is now the altar upon which she has laid down her life, a pure offering of love. Receive her, O God, as the sun rises in the eastern sky.
Private services for Sister Rose Marie Canty were held in the Church of Our Lady of Loretto Thursday morning July 23, 2020 followed by interment at Our Lady of Peace Cemetery. Kaniewski Funeral Homes assisted. You are invited to donate in Sister Rose Marie’s name to the Sisters of the Holy Cross Ministry with the Poor Fund at www.cscsisters.org
--Written by Sister Grace Shonk, CSC
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