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Un tributo a sor Rosalie Hanley, nds.

24/05/2010: General House - Rome

Homily of David Neuhaus sj at memorial mass in Jerusalem May 24, 2010 - Doc Word (50 kb)

Mass celebration in Jerusalem May 24, 2010 - Doc Word (3 MB)


Our dear sister, Rosalie, died after a long illness on 27th April, just six months after her Golden Jubilee.


Rosalie’s life was marked by a great love of and commitment to God through Sion’s vocation in the Church.  She spent the first years of professed life as a teacher, and many locals may remember her as Sr Aileen, who was Principal of St Patrick’s at Stratford in 1967. She also taught at St. Mary’s, Ascot Vale and St. Clare’s, Nth. Box Hill.     


In 1971, Rosalie gave a wholehearted ‘Yes’ to a call of the Congregation and joined the French speaking community of Ein Karem. During the five years there, she learned to speak French, then Hebrew. She was soon driving the car around Jerusalem and going to the markets for the produce needed for our large guest house. She was named co-ordinator of the international Ein Karem community when just  34 years of age. Those years in Jerusalem were extremely important in Rosalie’s life. They charted what would become her main focus for the future. When she returned to Australia, she began studying for an Arts Degree at Melbourne University, specializing in Middle Eastern Studies, Hebrew and Ancient History. After completing her Degree and Diploma of Education, she continued studying part-time for a Theology Degree at Melbourne College of Divinity. At the same time, she worked in the Centre for Jewish/Christian Relations in Kew, forming lasting friendships with many Jewish people. Her studies led her to develop more deeply her love of the Word of God in the Bible, especially the Hebrew Scriptures. When the opportunity came for a sabbatical, it was quite natural that Rosalie chose to go to New Jersey, U.S.A. to complete a Master’s Degree in Scripture and Jewish/Christian Studies.


Rosalie also spent nine years working with the refugees in the Detention Centres, in Villawood, Sydney, and in Maribrynong, Melbourne. She loved the people there, she saw that they were isolated, alone, and in great need of friendship. She reached out to them wholeheartedly, chatting with them, doing their messages, even sharing her home with some of the young women when they were released from Detention and had nowhere to go. From her experience in Maribrynong, Rosalie discovered that one of the greatest needs of the people was to learn English. Immediately, she set about doing a course to teach English as a second language which opened to them more future possibilities.


A further call for Sisters for Jerusalem was given in 2003. It did not take Rosalie long to offer to return to the Holy City which she deeply loved. She accepted responsibility for the Biblical Program at the Ecce Homo Convent and spent five very happy years there. She re-organized the program and was greatly appreciated by the many students who followed the courses. She, in her turn, loved the work, the people she met, and life in Jerusalem. Sadly, Rosalie was diagnosed with cancer in 2007 so was obliged to return to Melbourne for treatment.


In the two and half years she has been home from Israel, even though she had to receive regular treatment, she remained very active. She re-organized the provincial library at Box Hill, putting every book into its rightful category. She cultivated two areas of garden for vegetables and flowers which she loved. Using her training as an English teacher, she gave her services to the diocesan seminarians from Asia, helping them with their essays. Life’s many and varied experiences, some of them quite difficult, that Rosalie lived, were challenges that she confronted with realism, courage and tenacity.


Rosalie was a person of deep personal integrity; a loyal, true friend who never spared herself if someone needed her help or something had to be done.


Rosalie also had a great sense of humour, and she will be sadly missed by her family, the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion, and by all of the communities in which she lived and served.


(Extracts from the eulogy on  30th April 2010 by  Sister Patricia Watson, n.d.s.)