Sister Rose Maria Birkenfeld, 86, passed away January 27, 2018 at Chapel Ridge Health and Rehab in Fort Smith, Arkansas.
She was born on September 13, 1931 in Amarillo, Texas. Upon being received as a novice at St. Scholastica Convent on December 13, 1949, she took the name Sister Mary Martin Birkenfeld. Sister Rose Maria served in St. John’s in Fort Smith, Crawford County Hospital in Van Buren, St. Joseph’s Orphanage in North Little Rock, Holy Rosary School in Stuttgart, Arkansas and St. Joseph’s Hospital in Boonville, Missouri. In 1969, she became a charter member of the new foundation of Our Lady of Peace Monastery in Columbia, Missouri, the first daughter-house of St. Scholastica Monastery. Sister Rose Maria served the Sisters of Our Lady of Peace Monastery as procurator and subprioress. She loved her work in parish ministry in Effingham, IL before she was elected to be prioress from 1999 to 2003. After her term as prioress until 2008 she was the Director of Religious Education and Pastoral Minister at St. Joseph’s in Pilot Grove, MO, St. Mary’s in Shelbina, St. Peter in Marshall, MO, and St. Boniface in Koeltztown, MO and other surrounding parishes. She held Bachelor’s degrees in Education and Religious Studies and a Master’s Degree from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas. After she returned to St. Scholastica, she taught formation classes, co-directed the oblate program, and worked in the monastery gift shop. She resided in the monastery infirmary and later at Chapel Ridge Health and Rehab.
Sister Rose Maria is survived by two brothers, Howard (sister-in-law Annette) and Martin (sister-in-law Loretta); a sister, Sister Alice O’Brien, OSB; many beloved nieces and nephews; and her religious community. She was preceded in death by her parents and a brother, Charles Birkenfeld.
Sister Rose Maria’s funeral Mass was celebrated in the monastery chapel on January 31, 2018, with Father John Schmitz presiding, followed by burial in the monastery cemetery. Memorials may be made to St. Scholastica Continuing Care Fund, P O Box 3489, Fort Smith, AR 72913.