Pro-life leader sees God in faces of pregnant women

| August 14, 2013 | 1 Comment
Rosemary Rockwell

Leading With Faith winner Rosemary Rockwell. Photo by Dave Hrbacek / The Catholic Spirit.

Rosemary Rockwell

How do you apply your faith and Catholic values at work?

Because we believe so strongly in the right of every baby to be born, we pray for the women who come to Birthright. We pray that we can help those who are abortion-minded find the resources to carry to term. The joy, the answered prayer, is when a woman returns several months later to show off her newborn — this baby who seemed an impossible problem a few months earlier.

Who or what has been most inspirational to you in bringing your faith to the marketplace?

Catholic social teaching and people like Jack Jezreel (JustFaith), Jim Wallis, Matthew Kelly and the good pastors we have had at St. Richard have helped form me and encouraged me to keep on, even when things don’t go the way I had planned or hoped (One of the pastors reminded me I wasn’t the Messiah).

I have felt very blessed. This, combined with a conscience formed by nuns and my parents who were good, sincere, hard-working people, and my own strong sense of the need to work for the common good brought me to Birthright, as well as many of the other areas I am working in.

There is also the sentence in one of the Eucharistic Prayers that says, “We thank you for counting us worthy to stand in your presence and serve you.” This is a challenge. I want to live up to being “counted worthy.”

What achievement at work are you most proud of?

I can’t say I’m “proud” of anything I have accomplished; I’ve certainly made my share of mistakes along the way. Any achievements are with the grace of God and maybe being in the right place at the right time.

I am grateful when we can help a woman choose life. I’m certainly honored to have served in leadership capacities, most recently as liaison for the 18 Birthright chapters in Minnesota with Birthright International.

In a more humorous vein, I was sort of honored by a Loaves and Fishes guest who told another worker he wanted to marry the woman who made the coleslaw (me); when I came out of the kitchen to say hello to him, he looked at me and said, “Thank you for the good coleslaw.”

Maybe in some cultures that’s a marriage proposal? In my defense, I was probably 30 years older than he was.

In what specific ways have you experienced God’s presence in your workplace?

I try to see God’s face in the faces of the women who come to Birthright or anyone asking for help. I want every woman who comes through our door to have a positive experience, even if I can’t give her what she is asking for. That might mean simply asking how things are going for her or affirming her in some way or showing compassion by saying something like, “This must be really hard for you.”

I pray on my way to the office — that helps me be aware that God is with us and is in charge — and I pray for the women who come to our office. And I keep before me: “How can I imitate Christ in this situation?”


Age: 73

Organization: Birthright of Minneapolis

Title: Vice president and volunteer

Parish: St. Richard, Richfield

Spouse: Deceased

Children: Two stepsons

Activities: Teaching sixth-grade religious education classes, driving for Meals on Wheels, visiting nursing home residents, helping resettle refugee families, cooking at Loaves and Fishes, driving for medical appointments, leading morning prayer services, funeral lunch ministry, serving as parish trustee, volunteer coordinator, on Parish Council, Justice and Pastoral Care Commissions, weekly church cleaning, JustFaith facilitator, parish and Birthright newsletter editor.

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Category: Leading With Faith