Sister Mary Emerentia, June 1, 1914 – March 15, 2013

Dear Apostles of the Immaculate Heart of Mary,

This past week, our dear Sister Mary Emerentia passed away. Sister was born on June 1, 1914. She lived in a rural community in Minnesota, and had three brothers and one sister. Rosela Albrecht entered the Dominican Convent at the age of 18. She was determined to save her soul and help others. Her favorite Saint was St. Thérèse who was at her side in every step she took during her thirty years of Convent life.

Sister preferred solitude, silence and prayer, and early in her religious life, she made an offering of herself as a victim soul. She preferred to be hidden and would find ways to be chosen for roles in the kitchen and laundry room where she would not be exposed to the intrigues of the religious in her Order, who sought public recognition and were exposed to the view of the outside world. When Vatican II opened wide the doors of religious convents and seminaries, many abandoned the hidden and sacrificial life of their consecrated vocation. Sister realized her vocation was in danger. She would not take off the habit, secularize her spiritual life and abandon the hours of the Holy Office. Her heart and soul were torn with the decision she was forced to make after 30 years in religious life. In order to preserve her vows, she must leave the convent. In the dark of night, she and several of the other Sisters took flight. Sister retreated to a small traditional group of faithful who were determined to preserve the Faith of Our Fathers.

For the next 25 years, Sister worked in whatever capacity God provided: teacher, librarian and servant; whatever was asked of her. Sister’s family was scandalized that she had left the Convent and they condemned her. Sister then had the opportunity to care for an elderly lady who was dying. This she did with dedication and love. Then, another lady requested her services and Sister looked after this dear lady until her death.

I had begun to communicate with Sister during this time and she enrolled in the Living Rosary, and developed a special devotion to St. Philomena. I knew her family was distant from her and the lady for whom she cared would soon be called by God. I asked Sister what she would then do. Her only wish was to serve Our Lady. After Mabel died, I invited Sister to come help me with the Living Rosary. She prayed about it and was determined to come.

On October 3, 1989 – Feast of St. Thérèse, she flew into Houston and lived in our home for the next year. Those were the early years of the Living Rosary; it was just Sister and I. We walked around a table to collate books, and everything was done in a simple and humble way. After living with us for one year, a little “cottage” house across the street came up for rent. Sister was in heaven in this little cottage, her cell, in which to live, pray and offer herself up a victim for souls. In later years, we obtained a lovely large home in which to do the work of the Living Rosary and we moved Sister into the master suite where she had a large bedroom, a nice sitting room and a private bath. She so enjoyed the lovely yard with birds and squirrels, where she spent many hours raking leaves. She grew up on a farm and so loved being outdoors working.

Every day, she would perform her job as “chief of Our Lady’s armory.” Day after day, Sister prepared everything we needed to mail out to the missions, all done while sitting at the dining room table. It was an endless, lonely and thankless job, but she realized its value for souls. The heroic dedication Sister had for missionary souls was incredible. It was a grueling 20 years Sister reported for duty, preparing the Power Packets, Scapular packets, Cord and Oil packets, relic cards and Chaplet packets, for our missionary members. She sat for 8 hours a day doing the same thing, week after week, month after month, year after year, alone and without companionship or real encouragement.

Sister’s knees became arthritic and she was forced to use a cane. Oh, how this decline of health weighed upon her! Only in the end, she accepted it and carried on with her mission. Then came the day she had to trade the cane in for a walker. What a suffering for her to admit her decline! And, when the day came that the wheelchair had to be implemented, it was harrowing for Sister. With her loss of ability to be independent, she had to open her life to outside help and to remain completely hidden was no longer possible. It was at this time, an angel from India came to help us. Patricia Francis lived with Sister for five years. How blessed they were to have one another and Sister was able to continue on for the next five years at our home on Sweeny!

All our lives were abruptly changed on September 14, 2008 when Hurricane Ike hit Galveston, Texas. We brought Sister to our home where we weathered out this storm together. Sister needed more care now, unable to walk or even transfer herself; I kept her in my home and cared for her myself for a year. Up every day by 8 a.m., breakfast and her work were set out for the day. She sat at our dining room table with full view of a lovely lake, preparing the Miraculous Medal leaflets for the missions. Every evening at 5 p.m., I would come home and wheel her outside in the back yard. We prayed the Rosary and I served her dinner. She very much enjoyed the lake, the birds and the snacks we had during this time. Then came the day when Sister was not able to be left alone and she required more care than I could give her.

Sister was placed in a Nursing Home not far from our house and we were able to visit her often. We established a special time for Catholics to assemble and pray and, through the tireless effort of Patricia Francis, who had lived with Sister for 5 years, the Catholic residents had their spiritual needs met. Sister’s condition turned for the worse, and she was transported to the local hospital. Her doctor was wonderful and supportive.  Father Dignan came to give her the Last Sacraments on March 13; Sister was warm, comfortable and at peace. She passed to her eternal reward on March 14.

In the Cross is our salvation;
In the Cross is our life;
In the Cross is protection from our enemies;
In the Cross is infusion of heavenly sweetness,
strength of mind, joy of spirit;
In the Cross is the way to the height of religious virtue
and the perfection of sanctity to which we are all called!

Patti Melvin

Please pray for me.

O Jesus, Who in Thy bitter Passion, didst become “the most abject of men, a man of sorrows,” I venerate Thy Sacred Face whereon there once did shine the beauty and sweetness of the Godhead; but now it has become for me as if it were the face of a leper! Nevertheless, under those disfigured features, I recognize Thy Infinite Love and I am consumed with the desire to love Thee and make Thee loved by all men. The tears which well up abundantly in Thy Sacred Eyes appear to me as so many precious pearls that I love to gather up, in order to purchase the souls of poor sinners by means of their infinite value. O Jesus, whose adorable Face ravishes my heart, I implore Thee to fix deep within me Thy Divine Image and to set me on fire with Thy Love, that I may be found worthy to come to the contemplation of Thy glorious Face in Heaven. Amen.

(This was Sister’s favorite prayer of Saint Thérèse, which she prayed fervently every day!)

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