Sister Rosalia Bauer was called to be a missionary, entering the field as a nurse. In 1992, at age 63, she felt a strong call to save unborn babies. Here is the rest of her story about celebrating life.
I went to a retreat for five days in Door County, Sister Rosalia Bauer said. Then, I wanted 10 days to unwind and think. I went to the cloistered sisters by Sauk City.
There, someone gave Sister Rosalia a tape to listen to.
On the tape, it said when the devil wants to take over a country, he demands human sacrifice, she said. Abortion is a human sacrifice hes demanding in the United States.
I thought I was in a block of ice, she added.
You felt a strong call? I asked.
Thats what Im doing now full time, she said. I go down to the abortion clinic to pray and counsel. They call it a clinic. Being a nurse, there is no way I can call it a clinica place where people go to get their health restored, she said. This placethe mother is hurt, and a baby is killed. So how can you call it a health care facility or a clinic?
Tell me about the women youve counseled. Do most have remorse? I asked.
Definitely, she said. Nightmares. Bad nights. And when they think about their child…on their birthdays. … And some become sterile and cannot have children after theyve had an abortion.
Are these Catholic women? I asked.
You know, I usually dont ask anyone what their religion is, she said.
Sister Rosalia finds the subject comes up even in normal conversation.
Sometimes, they just open up, and it just pours out, she said.
Im looking at you in your pretty white sweater with red rosesnot a habit. They dont know you are a sister, I said.
And I dont care, Sister Rosalia said. We do it because, in our hearts, we know it is the right thing to do.
Are you angry toward the women having abortions? I asked.
Oh no, no, no, no, Sister Rosalia said. I just think of what Jesus said on the cross: Father, forgive them. They dont know what they are doing. Theyre pressured. My heart just goes out to them. I wish I could say to them, Listen to the women who have had abortions. You know that group coming out now called Silent No More? Theyre speaking out. Women are hurt by abortions. Fathers and families are hurt. My heart grieves for them.
Sister Rosalia was enjoying her fourth or fifth cup of coffee, doting on the French vanilla creamer.
This is excellent coffee, she smiled. I rarely treat myself to International French Vanilla.
I hate to burst your bubble, I said, but I think the first ingredient is partially hydrogenated oil.
Ohhhh, she gave a guttural response. Im on a new kick now with coffee; I live with another sister, and Im trying only to get coffee marked fair trade. I drink coffee only at breakfast time, and whats leftover between breakfast and dinnerbreakfast and noon. I can tell you Im closer to the tomb than to my mothers womb, so therefore, every day, I want to celebrate, celebrate.
The Catholic Church has changed a lot since the 1940s, I remarked.
Oh, and I love the changes of the church…our prayers in English, not in Latin, she said. I think (the people) understand what they hear and read. I can remember going to church as a child, and people were praying their rosary or saying the litany. They werent following the Mass because it was in Latin. My dad…would be reading his prayer book. I think we should be full participants. I still think we dont participate enough. I would like to see more involvement of women in the church as leaders.
What do you think of so much Protestant influence with Catholics? I asked.
Absolutely, she said. We should be friends and open to everyone.
You dont have a problem fellowshipping with Protestants? I asked.
Oh, no, Sister Rosalia said. I go to the ecumenical services. Were the family of God, arent we? There are only two commandments: Love God and love your neighbor.
What about all of that other church stuff? I asked.
I take what I can; what I cant, I let go, she said.
Youre 77. Will you retire? I asked.
I dont know what that word means, Sister Rosalia said. As long as Ive got my marbles…and good health, I plan to stay hereor wherever God calls. Im reading a Lenten Hobo Honeymoon, by Edward Hayes. A hobo is homeward bound. You pack lightly, and youre ready to go wherever the call is. Thats what I want, to be available wherever the call is.
Did I pry well? I asked.
You did, she smiled.
Marjorie Stradinger is a free-lance writer residing in Roscoe. She has covered food, drama, entertainment, health, and business for publications in California and Illinois for the past 25 years. She can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.
From the June 21-27, 2006, issue