Yvonne Chalfonte (center) - soon to be: Mother Mary Rose Therese of the Holy Spirit
Foundress of :
The Sisters of Reparation of the Sacred Wounds of Jesus CommunityYvonne Chalfonte was born as Miriam Louise, in New Orleans, Louisiana to parents of French heritage. As one of 13 children, she learns the first truths of Holy Faith at her Mother's knee. Attending Catholic parochial schools, she comes to know and love the Sisters and experience her first appreciation for religious life. From an early age, she showed great skill in the arts. As a nine-year old, she learned to sew well. At thirteen, she was a skilled seamstress later becoming a designer of children's clothing and theatrical costumes.
History before the Order was founded starts with a young women who sings for GOD !
To finance her early studies in voice, she worked in the advertising department of a large Ohio newspaper. Highly respected both by the advertisers and her employers, she displayed unusual skill in handling large accounts with creativity and integrity.
She begins her musical training with the finest in operatic teachers studying first with Madame Vioran and Anna Fitzu, both leading sopranos of the Chicago Opera Company, later completing her studies under Rosa Raisa of the Metropolitan Opera in New York, who is acknowledged today as one of the greatest sopranos ever to sing with the Met.
About 1940, through her beautiful soprano voice and magnetic personality, Yvonne attains great prominence in concert and opera, as well as radio and the new medium of television.
Her life on the stage did not leave her immune to sorrows. Yvonne experienced many personal trials and losses during these years, which brought her into an ever-deeper relationship with Our Lord and His Sorrowful Mother. Her faith was her constant source of strength and meaning in life.
Though offered a position in the Metropolitan Opera Company, Yvonne declines in favor of full-time dedication to the work of benefit concerts on behalf of charitable institutions and organizations, as well as the Church's apostolates. In this way, she intends to thank God for the gift of her voice, dedicating her life to His glories and those in need. She also begins accompanying pilgrimages of sick and invalid persons to Shrines in the US and Canada, renewing hope and praising the mercies of God through liturgy and song.
In 1948, Yvonne learns of story of Marie Rose Ferron (1902-1936), a Canadian-American stigmatist. This young woman's journey of reparational joy in the midst of immense suffering inspired Yvonne to compose a concert presentation based on the life and message of this holy soul.
Yvonne, having settled permanently in New York City, encounters the first future members of the Sisters, on April 11,1950. Other women who have been touched by the message and charisms of Marie Rose Ferron, and who seek to establish a religious community dedicated to the Sacred Wounds of Jesus. They join Yvonne in her charitable concert work.
In 1952, together with her companions and friends, Yvonne begins to dedicate herself to the Church's ministries in hospital work and catechetics. The group begins to discern the active forms of the spirituality of reparation through their counseling, providing food for the poor, and volunteer work in the local parish.
Yvonne withdraws from her concert career in 1953, and begins a time of discernment and directed spiritual formation with her companions. During this time of prayer and study, their works of dedication and charity continue. Slowly, they come to understand the "new form" of religious life to which the Lord is directing them: the union of reparational spirituality and Christ's Mystical Body, the Church. A profound concern for the needs of priests, particularly the aged and sick, characterizes Yvonne's commitment and will come to influence the future life of the community.
On January 1,1954, with the advice and counsel of several priests, Yvonne and her "sisters" approach the Archdiocese of New York with their plan of life. Under the guidance of Father Michael Harding, OFM, the Constitutions of the future community are written and a modern religious habit designed and adopted. The group is then directed to the Graymoor Franciscans, where Father Titus Cranny, S.A. assists them in adapting the Franciscan Rule to their reparational charism. During this time, Mother Mary Reine, S.C. of the Sisters of Charity of New York, Mother (now Saint) Elizabeth Seton's second community, assisted in their daily religious life formation.
In the presence of Father Titus Cranny, on February 22,1959, the group gathers together in the original Graymoor Chapel and professes their religious vows as Sisters of Reparation of the Sacred Wounds of Jesus. Yvonne Chalfonte will now be known as Mother Mary Rose Therese of the Holy Spirit. Among the Sisters making their profession is her own mother who takes the religious name Sister Mary Aloysius of the Holy Innocents.
Desiring to serve the Church with missionary generosity, on August 25, 1959, the Sisters accept the invitation of Bishop Charles Francis Buddy, D.D. of San Diego to assist him in the Catholic schools and parishes of his diocese, particularly the poorest. This work would call forth all of Mother Therese's gifts and talents and unite the Sisters in heart and mind as they transfer to the West Coast.
The Sisters began their first California Mission at Mount St. Joseph School in Barstow, California, September 1959. Through Mother Therese's guidance and the Sisters' dedication, the school enrollment soon doubles, the parish pays off its heavy debt, and the catechetical enrollment triples. In the next years, a playground, infirmary, and four classrooms are constructed. Parish life is renewed through adult formation and deeper love of the Sacraments.
In August 1962, because of their success in the northern Mojave desert area, Mother Therese and the Sisters are asked to transfer to the Imperial Valley, where the local parish has need of similar assistance. Again, the work of the young community has great success, establishing a solid Catholic school and confirming Catholic families in faith.
At Bishop Buddy's invitation, in June of 1963,the Sisters open a Motherhouse and novitiate in the heart of San Diego, as a second foundation. Here, the Sisters continue their nursing studies and healthcare apostolate. Here too, they established a Donne' program as a lay movement for people dedicated to the spirituality of reparation and the apostolic works of the Sisters.
Mother Therese's mother, Sister Mary Aloysius, is the first member of the community to be called home to Heaven on September 15, 1967.
A Community of Love
The Imperial Valley school now well established, the Sisters are asked to dedicate themselves to the renewal of St. Hyacinth Academy located in San Jacinto, California in August 1969. Responsive as ever to the needs of the Church, Mother Therese oversees the transfer of the teaching apostolate.
In April 1973, Archbishop Robert Dwyer invites Mother Therese to bring the Sisters of Reparation to the Archdiocese of Portland. The charism of the Sisters and their loving commitment to the Church are the source of an immediate bond between the Archbishop and Mother Foundress. After the Sisters arrival and the establishment of Sacred Wounds of Jesus Convent. Mother establishes their ministries in healthcare, catechesis, and parish work. A Marian youth movement is soon founded and some of the Sisters begin special works among troubled teenagers and the urban poor.
During 1977, the work of the community continues to develop and increase. Mother Therese's special love for priests is expressed in numerous forms of support and reparational union. Her gifts of counsel and insight continue to inspire many people who turn to her for spiritual strength and comfort. The community's work of convert instruction becomes a growing apostolate.
On June 9,1984, Rose Hall Reparation and Prayer Center is dedicated by Bishop Paul E. Waldschmidt, CSC as the spiritual base of the Sisters' apostolate and ministries. Mother Therese sees the work of teaching and spiritual healing advance and develop. Her union with Our Lord continues to become ever more rich and profound as the years go on.
Mother Therese's health begins to decline in 1991, but her faith and zeal are unshaken. The trials and challenges of the years leave her commitment to reparation and the healing of the wounds of Jesus' Mystical Body undimmed.
April 15, 1993, in the presence of her Sisters and other friends gathered in prayer, Mother Mary Rose Therese is gently taken to her eternal home.
On April 19, 1993, Archbishop William Levada and his predecessor, Archbishop Cornelius Power preside at the concelebrated Funeral Mass in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, with the assistance of Mother's own Ave Maria Chorus which she had founded in 1973. The next day, after a second Mass at the Motherhouse, Mother Therese's body is laid to rest at the Mount Calvary Cemetery Mausoleum, Portland, Oregon.
The co-foundress and second Mother of the Sisters of Reparation of the Sacred Wounds of Jesus was Mother Regina Rose of the Crucifixion, S.R. She was born February 14,1928, in Baltimore, MD. As one of the four children of Mary Mullin and Ralph Clutz, she was named Myrtle Jeanie. Inspired by a visit with her friend to a Catholic Church and drawn immediately to the Most Blessed Sacrament, she became a convert on her own volition at the age of seven.
Not long after, an accident at school caused the development of tuberculosis of the spine. This disease process and secondary symptoms impacted the next 11 years of her life and resulted in conditions that remained until her death.
Her mother died when Jeanie was 15 years old. So at the age of 17, after five unsuccessful spinal fusions and innumerable other surgeries, she was placed in Mercy Villa Nursing Home to die. The happenstances of these years resulted in the development of wonderful personal characteristics and phenomenal spiritual growth.
Fr. Phil Hodek, a Redemptorist Priest, encouraged Jeanie to pray for a cure through the intercession of Marie Rose Ferron. A cure was granted and the absent spinal bone was replaced miraculously. Jeanie was no longer paralyzed and was able to walk, bend and move about freely though the ensuing pain remained a lifelong condition.
Jeanie knew that God was inviting her to an even greater commitment. Through her apostolic ministry, which promoted the life of Marie Rose Ferron, she believed God was calling her to dedicate the remainder of her life to work as a Religious. Little did she realize that God was preparing her to be the co-foundress of an entirely new Religious Community.
Much disappointment, challenge and growing in grace brought the group through its early years. With its official establishment in 1959, Jeanie, now Sister Regina Rose of the Crucifixion, became Mistress of Novices and the Assistant to our Foundress, Mother Mary Rose Therese. Her capabilities were many and her ministry took a variety of forms.
Mother Regina Rose had a natural gift for understanding the Catholic Faith. She was responsible for teaching, guiding and the spiritual development of thousands of individuals through her lifetime. These same gifts applied in her teaching ministry in parochial schools. She was particularly graced by preparing children and adult converts for Holy Communion.
"With God all things are possible". Prayer surrounded every facet of her personal journey and professional life, community endeavors and ministry. She understood the spiritual power of sacramental living. She sustained herself through the Most Blessed Sacrament and the Word of God. Her spiritual joy was contagious.
Although she endured many ongoing physical challenges, from the time of her cure, she developed and applied her nursing skills in local hospitals, community settings and nursing homes. She was responsible for the development of dispensaries in our schools and for acquiring public health testing and inoculations for our students.
As Co-Foundress of the Sisters of Reparation, Mother Regina Rose had a keen insight to the importance of healthy interrelations with other religious communities. This outward ministry began when she was elected and installed as Secretary of the Sisters Senate in our San Diego Mission.
Throughout her life, Mother Regina Rose traveled to minister to those in need. This began when she accompanied Mother Therese on Concert Tours to the major cities of the U.S. and Canada, and continued through each of her community assignments and healing work. Her final trip took her to Vancouver, B. C. in August of 1998, less than a month before her death.
Through Mother Therese, she learned about the value and importance of 'moderation in all things'. Though God asked much suffering of her throughout the years, she strove to balance prayer, work, study, relaxation, and community life. Her connectedness with the Communion of Saints gave her endless energy for doing good. Her response to God's call was immediate; ever striving to do God's Holy Will.
Mother Regina Rose, April 1993
Mother Regina Rose was a convert to the Catholic Church. Her conversion came as the result of a phenomenon she experienced at the age of seven. Visting a Catholic Church, her gaze was drawn to the Tabernacle by a radiance she could not explain, but a warmth she could feel. Later she was to realize that the streaming radiance came from the Holy Eucharist locked within the Tabernacle.
Jesus' Presence in the Eucharist sustained her through tragedy and joy, through sorrow and success, through life to death.
Hundreds were prepared for their own first Eucharist, with focus on the Divine Presence. As Novice Mistress and leader she taught the invincible joy of Christ as the Center of the community life.
Through trials and personal afflictions there remained an insoluable bond between her and her Eucharistic Lord.
Mother Regina Rose offered her many physical trials for the needs served by our community. This included one of our major dedications - the priesthood. Through the work of our Reparation and Prayer Center, which she co-established with Mother Therese, she prepared others for these very necessary ministries.
At the death of Mother Mary Rose Therese, April 1993, her title changed to 'Mother', when elected and installed as the second Superior General. She served actively in the capacity until God called her to her heavenly home.
Mother Regina Rose had a rich relationship with God and a strong devotion to Our Blessed Mother and the Saints. She counted on her Guardian Angel for guidance and protection. Her spiritual maturity as a Reparation woman of the Church, was evidenced by all who knew her. "Open the doors." She would say. " Let the people come to Jesus, Who waits so eagerly for them."
Her wheelchair was named 'Joy'. Whether in the chapel at prayer, or on the road to mission, or in the yard at work, or enroute to an appointment, this woman of the Lord lived the beatitudes in genuine joy. How privileged we are to have known her and to have been an integral part of her life.