Sister Maureen Rooney, CSC
(Sister M. Francis)
December 9, 1939 – February 3, 2021
We share news of the death of Sister Maureen Rooney, CSC, who died at 6:24 a.m. on February 3, 2021, in Saint Mary’s Convent, Notre Dame, Indiana. Sister Maureen entered the Congregation from Oakland, California, on September 4, 1960. Her initial profession of vows took place on August 15, 1963.
Please join us in prayer for Sister as we renew our faith in the resurrected Jesus and strengthen our hope that all the departed will be raised to eternal life.
Gerald Francis Rooney and Mary Ann Varconda met and married in Hightstown, New Jersey, and had four girls, Maureen being the youngest, who was born in nearby Cranbury, New Jersey, on December 9, 1939. One sibling died early when Maureen was still a child herself. Those were difficult years, deep into the Great Depression. The family soon moved to Virginia, then Delaware. Since both parents made a hardscrabble living in the poultry industry, raising, selling, buying or dressing chickens, Maureen was sent to her maternal grandparents’ farm in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. Eventually the Rooneys relocated to northern California, where Maureen first met the Sisters of the Holy Cross in Oakland at St. Bernard’s Grammar School in fifth grade. She graduated from St. Bernard’s in 1953. Though other sisters taught her in Oakland at St. Elizabeth High School, she remained connected with Holy Cross, especially with Sister M. Honora (Scott), CSC. Sister Honora, who died in 1974, was a wonderful and caring teacher, a friend to support Maureen’s religious vocation, especially when Maureen’s parents opposed her entrance into the convent.
Maureen found a clerical job and attended night school to improve herself while working with the local Teamsters of Alameda County in Oakland, California. After three years, against her parents’ wishes, being almost 21 years old, she entered the Sisters of the Holy Cross in Notre Dame, Indiana, in 1960. Given her interest in mathematics and science, she earned several degrees which grounded her initial ministry of elementary education and, later, in administration: Bachelor of Science in chemistry, Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana, 1965; Master of Science, University of Mississippi, 1973; Master in elementary administration, University of San Diego, San Diego, California, 1981.
One supposes that Sister Mary Francis was given her father’s middle name upon reception of the holy habit on June 10, 1961, but she returned to her baptismal name very quickly when allowed to do so in the late 1960s. Even though Sister had preferred to be a high school teacher, it was thought better for new teachers to test themselves first in the lower grades. For 23 years (1965-1988), Sister Maureen ministered in parochial elementary schools in California, Nevada, Arizona, Idaho and Utah. The last seven of those years she was a principal at two schools in California, serving three years at Stella Maris Academy in La Jolla and four years at Holy Cross School in Ventura.
Sister Maureen Rooney was an extrovert, curious, gregarious and an inveterate hard worker. It was impossible to think of her being quiet, seated behind a computer. Yet she was an early adopter of the technology and largely self-taught. She was quick to develop computer labs in the schools and introduced computerized programs in offices. From 1988 to 2007, she took those skills with her as an executive secretary, office manager or administrative assistant, first serving bishops in California for the Diocese of San Jose, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and the Diocese of Monterey, and then in Washington, D.C., for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. From 2007 to 2014, she was a superb assistant archivist in Congregational Archives and Records at Saint Mary’s.
Sister Maureen retired to Saint Mary’s Convent in September 2014, where she died on February 3, 2021, having been visited daily by Sister Mary Mulligan, CSC, a lifelong friend. The Rooneys, Mulligans and McGees had strong ties as Oakland families, with some of the girls later entering the Sisters of the Holy Cross. Sister Maureen had a firm belief in the Resurrection as God’s raising of the “whole person,” transcending both body and soul. She lived 60 years in Holy Cross and died at 81 years old. She now shares fully in eternal life, free in her whole being. Dear friends, do not forget that our sister is with our God “where one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (2 Peter 3:8)
We invite you to donate to the Ministry With the Poor Fund in Sister’s name.—Written by Sister Catherine Osimo, CSC