Sister Rosemary Russell, a Sister of the Most Precious Blood of O’Fallon, died July 31. She was 80 years old.
Born on Dec. 9, 1939, and baptized on Dec. 16 at St. Edward in St. Louis, Sister Rosemary was the first of eight children of Michael and Mildred (Shaw) Russell.
Since seventh grade, Rosemary had thoughts of becoming a sister, planning to join the Sisters of St. Joseph, who taught her in grade school. Family needs put her plans on hold but being in touch with the Sisters of the Most Precious Blood at Fatima re-inflamed her desire. She entered the Sisters of the Most Precious Blood as a novice in 1963 and professed first vows on Aug. 10, 1965, receiving the name Sister Maureen Therese.
Sister Rosemary completed a bachelor’s degree in special education at Fontbonne and earned a master’s degree in elementary administration at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
Sister Rosemary’s first assignment as a professed sister was at St. John the Baptist Elementary School in St. Louis. Just two years later, she was asked to serve as principal of the newly formed Compton Heights Catholic School. After eight years at Compton Heights, Sister Rosemary taught at St. Sabina for three years. From there she went on to serve as the administrator of elementary education for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, and in 1986 she was elected to her community’s general council. After completing her term in leadership, she served in Bolivia until she was again elected to the council in 1998. In 2001, she began working with the English Tutoring Project, where she ministered until her retirement in 2014.
Sister Rosemary had a heart for justice. In addition to her passion for fair and just treatment of those she served in her full-time ministries, she gave herself in many volunteer capacities. She joined the peaceful protests at the School of the Americas; was her community’s representative to the inter-congregational NGO at the United Nations; served as a member of the community’s social justice committee and as the chairperson of the Bold Action committee; visited the detainees at the prison in Troy; and coordinated letter-writing campaigns to senators and representatives.
Sister Rosemary is survived by her brothers, Thomas and Timothy; and by her sisters, Mary Jerilyn (Jeri) VarVera and Margaret Standerfer. A memorial Mass will be celebrated when the community is able to gather in the chapel.