Stories & News
Meet some of the men and women who benefit from the Retirement Fund for Religious.
“My mother was not surprised when I told her I wanted be a religious sister,” says Sister Rosemary Zaffuto, a member of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Hamden, Connecticut. “She was used to seeing me off by myself praying or walking to church to pray there.” For Sister Rosemary, the primary challenge was leaving behind her close-knit family in Pennsylvania. At just 10 years old, she had lost her father in a coal-mining accident. Her mother was left widowed with seven children, the youngest of whom was five months old at the time. Yet her mother was supportive. “She encouraged us very much in our vocations,” recalls Sister Rosemary. “Some became nurses, some secretaries, some educators.”
She made her first profession in 1943 and began teaching soon after. Sister Rosemary spent 21 years teaching in schools in Pennsylvania, Michigan, New York, Connecticut, and California. “We were transferred quite a bit when we were young,” she says, “to give us experience in different types of schools—in low-income as well as affluent areas.” In California, she was appointed the superintendent of Catholic schools for the Diocese of Sacramento. “Up until that time, only a priest had been superintendent,” Sister Rosemary explains. She ministered in the diocese for 18 years before returning to Connecticut to serve as vice provincial of her community.
After six years in leadership, Sister Rosemary moved to Greensburg, Pennsylvania, to minister at Clelian Heights, an educational and vocational facility for children and adults with developmental disabilities that was founded by her community. “I treasure my years ministering to those with special needs,” says Sister Rosemary. “I enjoyed working and laughing with them. We had good laughs there!” Sister Rosemary served at Clelian Heights for 14 years before retiring from active ministry.
At 87, she resides at Sacred Heart Manor, her community’s retirement residence. (Recently, support from the Retirement Fund for Religious helped her community renovate the facility.) Looking back on more than 70 years of religious life, she concludes, “I entered as a novice at 16, and I’ve been happy ever since. I still have deep in my heart the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, who guides me daily on my spiritual journey.”