In memory of Sister Mary Rose McPhee, DC
By Peggy Moraczewski
The life of Daughters of Charity Sister Mary Rose McPhee demonstrated a life of many accomplishments. Much like Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, she saw Christ in the eyes of the poor and took action to address their needs.
In 1941, at the age of 23 and in the midst of nursing school, Sister McPhee entered the Daughters of Charity community. Over the years, her gift of ministering to the poor was fulfilled in Catholic health care where she served as a nurse, hospital administrator, executive director of Health Services at Corporate Headquarters in St. Louis, Mo., and Superior for the Daughters of Charity’s Western Territory.
Sister McPhee moved to Austin in 1974 and embraced her role as administrator of Seton Medical Center, leading it to become the largest hospital in Central Texas. During her six-year tenure, two expansions of the medical center were completed, including the first regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Her constant awareness of the needy was the guiding factor in the founding of League House, a facility where out-of-town family members can stay while their critically ill loved ones are hospitalized.
Twenty years after arriving in Austin, Sister McPhee founded Seton Cove, a spirituality center open to people of all faiths.
“I wanted people to learn to meditate, to laugh, to enjoy nature, to be healthy,” she said at the 10-year anniversary of Seton Cove. Another decade has passed and Seton Cove continues to “reach out to the poor in spirit and those seeking to enrich their relationship with God, others and self,” according to its website.
Sister McPhee was a social justice advocate. She told the Seton Fund Magazine in 2005, “If people functioned out of an inner-conviction for the good of society, we would live in a different world.”
She served the Diocese of Austin for 30 years and retired to Evansville, Ind., in 2004. She died peacefully during Holy Week 2014. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at the Seton Residence Chapel in Indiana on April 23, followed by burial at St. Joseph Cemetery. Donations may be made to Daughters of Charity, Province of St. Louise, 4330 Olive St., St. Louis, Mo. 63108.