Caring for the Sick, Sisters Continue Work of Late Nun Deemed Venerable

Tags: Currents Brooklyn, NY, Faith, Family, Inspiration, Media, Pope Francis, Queens, NY, World News

By Katie Vasquez

For 123 years, Rosary Hill Home has offered a space for people with incurable cancers to live out their last days.

“It’s an amazing thing because especially to be at the bedside of a dying patient is that at one moment the patient sees your face and the next moment they see the face of God,” said Mother Marie Edward Deutsch, Superior General of the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne.

Thirty-two Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne, like Mother Marie, offer hands-on care to the sick, care that guests believe is irreplaceable.

“I was brought up with nuns and one recently said to me, ‘I’m going to pray for you every single night,’” said Pat Simone, a guest at Rosary Hill Home. “I say, ‘Well, thank you. Thank you. I appreciate it.’”

The prayers and the home were started by Rose Hawthorne, later known as Mother Mary Alphonsa, a convert to Catholicism who used to care for the sick on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

“She heard the story of a young seamstress who had gotten cancer and couldn’t afford the care that she needed and was sent away and had no help and no care,” said Sister Diana Marie Andrews, who provides nursing care at Rosary Hill Home. “And she realized then that this was one of the most needy groups in the city.”

Now Mother Mary Alphonsa is on her way to sainthood.

Pope Francis declared her venerable in March, the final step before beatification.

It was news that brought joy to the sisters at Rosary Hill Home.

“We all cheered in the hallways. So it was really exciting,” Sister Diana said. “It’s something you know, it’s not that you don’t know that she lived this amazing life, but to have the church herself and the Holy Father look at that and say, ‘Yeah, this is a life of heroic virtue.’ It’s just, it’s amazing.”

From the beginning of her work, Hawthorne never accepted payment for the care that she gave.

That’s a practice that the sisters continue to this day.

“We have been very, very cautious with how we use the money so that it is an ongoing legacy, which has enabled us to continue the work,” Mother Marie said.

The next step to becoming a saint would be to recognize the miracles of Mother Mary Alphonsa.

Until then, they will continue to ask for her intercession.