Mount Saviour ChronicleChapel Rear View

Summer 1999                                                        No: 85

IN MEMORIAM:   J. Madeleva Roarke            November 14, 1936 - February 22, 1999

Madeleva RoarkeDaughter
Great Aunt
Champion of Great Causes
Lover of

  • God
  • Family
  • Travel
  • Monastic Life
  • The Algonquin Round Table
  • Social Justice
  • New York Times
  • Life

  • At her pre-operative evaluation, Madeleva asked the doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital how long it would be before she could return to work.  So they asked her to describe her job in some detail.  When Madeleva told of scrubbing floors, washing windows, cooking and doing dishes and the number of guests involved, one of the young physicians exclaimed:  "You want to go back to THAT job!"  We know the story of Martha and Mary. We know to whom they gave hospitality.  We have St Benedict's reminder that all guests are to be received as Christ who himself said:  "I was a stranger and you welcomed me."  So we should have a different perspective on THAT job.  Mad certainly did as she laughingly told the story.  Yet Christ is hidden and it is only  in faith that we see him in the stranger, the poor, the lost, the dullards and even in the ungrateful and the arrogant.  "Go and do likewise" is Christ's directive in the story of the Good Samaritan as well as to those whose feet he had just washed.  "Go and do likewise" are certainly Mad's last words to us.

    Commentators on St. Luke's Gospel remind us that Martha and Mary lived in the same house.  Which is to say, both women should be alive in each of us!  Madeleva's life is a living commentary  on receiving and responding to Christ in the various disguises he takes on in us. Since we have recently celebrated the Easter Mystery and have been reminded that our life is hidden with Christ in God, it seems fitting to write this brief memorial for one whose life is more literally hidden from us with Christ in God and who served him hidden in us.

    Born in Kenmore N.Y. to Hugh Roarke and Gertrude Shaw, Madeleva and her twin sister Janet made their First Communion about two weeks before their father died.  Their older sister, Trudy, was about to graduate from Grade School.  A very resourceful mother, whose 99th birthday was April  7th, raised the three girls during the last years of the Depression and managed to send them to Catholic Schools although she herself was neither wealthy nor Catholic.  Madeleva was a voracious reader from her earliest years.  Her BA cum laude in 1960 from D'Youville College in Buffalo and MA in 1967 from the University of Notre Dame, attest to her bright and lively mind.  In her mature years, the cum laude she received from many of the people who knew  her, and especially  those whom she welcomed at Mount Saviour, must have meant even more to her.

    Madeleva entered the Sisters of  St. Mary of Namur in August 1954.  She taught second grade during her Novitiate and then science at Mount Saint Mary in Kenmore from 1960-1965.  She taught biology and was Guidance Counselor from 1968-1970 and taught science again at the Sister's High School in Sumter, S.C. 1966-1968.  She returned there as Principal in 1973 and 1974.  As a Sister of St. Mary of Namur, she joined the staff of Network, the National Catholic Social Justice Lobby in Washington D.C., from 1974-1978 and  entered the world of national politics and policies.  This  was an environment she thrived in and she could have had a very successful career inside or outside the Beltway.  In 1978, she took a leave of absence from the Sisters of Saint Mary  and  chose to serve as Guest Mistress  at  St. Gertrude's  "for a while".  The "while" lasted over 22 years!

    When Christ says to Madeleva, "Well done you good and faithful servant, enter the joy of the Lord" which hopefully  He will say,  to her and each of us, He won't mean: "Because you did it all yourself".  Whatever credit we deserve, we share  with those who served us in Christ.  Madeleva's family, the Sisters of St. Mary  of Namur, the women and men she worked with at Network and the people and life she encountered while at Mount Saviour deserve our especial  admiration and gratitude.  Her relationship with her sisters and her mother and theirs to her, as well as her devotion to her nieces and nephews and her two godchildren, was always an inspiration.  So is the interaction between her sisters' families: the Bouley and Bauer clans and their extended families.  With such support and acceptance, one sinks deep and healthy roots.  Her years with the Sisters of St. Mary, an International  Religious Institute, must also be mentioned.  They were and are remarkable women.  They gave Madeleva the opportunities of an education and their own contemplative-active charism.  A little known example was the High School they maintained for years in Sumter S.C. for poor Afro-American children.  Madeleva was able to integrate the school with the help of personnel from nearby Shaw Air Force Base who wanted their children to receive an excellent education.  The Sisters slept in the Dorm with the girls  and experienced both the help and hindrance of the local community.  It was a valuable growth experience for Madeleva.

    Another group of outstanding women who contributed to Madeleva's development were the staff and members of Network where she gained valuable experience with the United States Congress and its personnel.  Later, she brought the fruits of  that experience to Elmira in the League of   Women Voters, the Democratic Party  and  a column in the Chemung Valley Reporter entitled "Political Parsnips" ( from an obscure Sir Walter Scott quotation, " ...fair words butter no parsnips").

    Finally credit must go to the monastic community  and the guests and visitors  of the Monastery, especially St. Gertrude's Guest House.  In one of the many letters, cards and e-mail we received, a woman wrote that she once asked Madeleva how she was able to make people feel  so completely at home here.  Madeleva answered,  "Because I am at home here".

    In her 1998 Xmas letter, Madeleva wrote:  "Being able to walk again ...(perhaps to stroll  through some of  the capitals of the world left unexplored) ... has a nice ring about it and worth the chance.
    ...there is a 100% chance my condition will continue to deteriorate, a 95% success rate ...of the niggling 5%, we can say with the old cartologists "thar  be dragons"; but in a less than perfect world, thar  be dragons everywhere".  In the perfect world, they be very friendly.

    Madeleva wavingI have died and leave you for a while,
        But be not like some, sore undone,
    Who keep long vigils by silent dust and weep.

      For my sake turn to life and smile,
        nerving thy heart and trembling hand
    do something to comfort other hearts than thine;

    Complete the dear unfinished tasks of mine
    and perchance may I therein comfort you.


    Since the Lent 1999 Chronicle was mostly pictures, we will backtrack into the distant past of
    30 November 1998 when Br. John Hammond & Br. Richard Iaquinto of Weston Priory spent a few days with us.  It was especially fortunate they could visit with Madeleva and go over with her some of the research  into the events, the people and aspirations that were germinating in our two Founders Damasus and Leo.  It is way too early to make any  promises but not too early to ask your prayers that we can bring them to fruition.

    Guest + Br. John + Br. PierreWe try to practice a skillful  neglect with regard our guests who are on Retreat.  But Msgr. John Allesandro is one we usually  bug each year to put us at the cutting edge of some issue in the Church or the world.  In December, it was negotiations between  the Vatican, the American Bishops and the Universities under Catholic auspices in the United States.  Articles have been appearing in America, Commonweal, and the London Tablet about the matter.  This is an issue that most certainly calls for our prayers.
    Norm Collins, Br. John Thompson and Br. Pierre amid the pots and pans.

    In January, we welcomed Abbot Gerard of St. Mary's Abbey in Morristown NJ for a few days; and at the end of the month, Fr. Luke Dysinger OSB, of St Andrew's Abbey in Valyermo California conducted the Community Retreat.  We have been especially blessed in recent years by the monks and nuns who have given of themselves and their wisdom and experience for our benefit.  Fr. Luke helped us focus on where we are on our monastic journey and not just where we think or say we are.  He taught us how to find  in Lectio Divina an encounter with God and also genuine inspiration from monastic saints.  It was very encouraging to hear him say he felt at home here as in his own Abbey.  Fr. Philip Verhaegen, when Prior at St. Andrew's, expressed the same sentiments in Fr. Damasus' day.  Fr. Philip would often stop here a few days on his way to or from Belgium.

    Allen Burns, who as Fr. Bernard Burns, was one of the founding fathers of Mount Saviour, died on February 20;  Sister Reginald OP of the Elmira Dominican Community died on the 21st and Madeleva Roarke on the 22nd.  Mass of the Resurrection was celebrated here on the 27th.

    February ended on an up-beat note when Bruno and Marlese Franeck renewed  their marriage vows on the 45th anniversary  of their wedding on the 28th.

    Br. Stephen + visiting monksIn March, Br. Andrew Dung-Lac OSB and Br. Dominic Hunh OSB who are sort of monastic grand children as monks of Christ in the Desert, spent their Spring Break  from St. Anselm's College in New Hampshire with us.  They are a delightful pair and speak well for their culture, their monastic formation and wonderfully show the good zeal monks ought to have.
    Br. Stephen with  Brs. Dominic and Andrew of Christ in the Desert  longing for a Cuban or Vietnam spring.

    We sang Vespers and Compline at Grace Episcopal Church in Elmira as has become our custom on the Sunday of Joy in Lent.  We were rewarded  with a very warm reception and  wonderful feast by Reverend Donald Matthews and the members of the parish.

    The Company of Kirkridge, a lively and spirited group, graced our grounds 19-21 March.  This year  economy was their focus.  No matter the topic, they are always a joy to have with us.

    On 24 March, the death of Carroll Hayes marked the passing of yet another founding figure in our early history.  It was Carroll, together with his wife Elizabeth who survives him, who put our dairy herd on a professional basis.  Carroll's intelligence and energy in developing the farm and involving Cornell University in our project  are still felt even though we are now raising sheep.

    Shearing 1999The  first Spring Lamb was born on April 8th, which was about the same day Andy Colucci planted the first of the garden greens.  One of  the human creature's greatest activities is planting.  To build, to marry and to plant are sacred scripture's sacred triad for human activity.  We plant, not merely wishing for a harvest, but in a confident hope,  the only kind of  hope we can live by as we face the future into which God calls us.
    Tom Horton is shearing  200 sheep with guests and monks helping while 150 lambs were vaccinated.

    On April 13th, Fr. Martin had some varicose veins removed and on the same day, Br. William had a double hernia repaired.  A week  later Fr. Timothy Brennan, a monk of St Mary's Abbey in Morristown N.J. who is staying with us, had his gall  bladder removed.

    At this writing in early  May, we have lost  a number of lambs to predators and the Chapel  steeple
    is in need of repair.  Nevertheless the Good News of God's call in Christ urges us on, so on we will go.  Join us in giving thanks to God and to all who encourage us on Dedication Day, August 15th.


    I  attended the annual Benedictine Abbots and Priors meeting which was held this year at St. Joseph's Abbey across the lake from New Orleans.  It is almost always a very worthwhile gathering and this year with Fr. Demetrius Dumm OSB of St. Vincent's Archabbey as the speaker it was exceptionally  so.  It  was  an opportunity to visit Val DuMontier who had been in our Summer Experience last year and who was receiving chemotherapy for a cancer in a New Orleans
    hospital.  Please remember him in your prayers.  Then I was able to spend a few days with Tom and June Casanova and their children and grandchildren in Crowley La.  Tom and I shared the same barracks in Korea in 1952 -3.  They introduced me to 'grandchildren's basketball' which deserves TV coverage more than the NBA, and also to recipes for making pecans more edible, if possible!  A break in the lectures enabled me to visit Tom and Jean Brett, long time friends from their Elmira days.  Finally, it was a chance to hone up on my getting-lost skills.  Boston and New Orleans  are wonderful proving grounds.
    Br. Bruno will accompany the Italian Tour led by Diane Treveiler and Wes Kennison in late May and Br. Pierre will be with the group Dr. Mary Skinner takes to the monasteries, cathedrals and chateaux of central France.  We will all  hear  from them on their return!
    Br. John Thompson and Br. William Uiting will attend the Summer School for monks in Simple vows at St Meinrad's  Archabbey June 10-23.
    Br. Alexis + RaphaelWe are very grateful that the brothers can take advantage of these opportunities to experience first hand the roots of our Faith and culture and  to take part with other monks in studies on the Liturgy with Abbot Primate Marcel Rooney and on Early Monastic Writers with Fr. Columba Stewart of St John's Abbey,  Collegeville, Minnesota.
    Br. Alexis and Br. Raphael in the library stacks.

                                     Fr. Martin

    Please remember  us in your prayer and, if possible, also in your estate or will.
    Our legal title is: The Benedictine Foundation of New York State.

    We are able to celebrate Mass for your intentions.
    The diocese asks $10.  We are also grateful for less.

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