Someone once said, “Nuns don’t retire, they continue to inspire.”
Proof of the continuing flow of inspiration and service to others is demonstrated in the daily lives of the Sisters of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament. Retired from her position as chaplain for Family Hospice, Sister Rosa Sanchez is busy adding another paragraph to her already abounding biography. Sister Rosa recently joined the Foster Grandparent Program, managed by Catholic Charities, and is currently spending her mornings with the children at Blessed Sacrament Academy’s Child Development Center.
Rosa Sanchez is the fifth child in a family of eight. She spent her early years with her family in El Campo and Mackay in Texas. Her family was strong in Hispanic traditions which included the Catholic faith. Sister Rosa describes her childhood as “peaceful and joyful.” She first entered public school when she was seven, while at home she continued to help her sisters in household chores and work in the fields.
“When I became a teenager, I experienced a great desire to love God in a special way,” explains Sister Rosa. “One day as I prayed before the Blessed Sacrament, I experienced a call to do all in my power to work at being united with Him.” Her parents supported and encouraged her in her desire to become a religious Sister. Her pastor, Father Thomas de Luna, suggested the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament congregation and the Victoria (Texas) Community accepted her at a young age.
“The Victoria community was primarily Czech, German, Irish Slovak and Polish,” described Sister Rosa. “I found myself in a new family, experiencing different food, language, customs and schedules. All of this in addition to religious training and earning a high school diploma and temporary teaching certificate.”
In 1947, Rosa professed her vows with the name Sister Benedicta. She began teaching grades 1-4 if a two-room school house. She continued to teach primary and intermediate grades and directed the choir until 1967. During that time she also earned a BA from the University of the Incarnate Word and a Life Professional Elementary and secondary Teaching Certificate.
In 1968, Sister Benedicta was assigned to teach at St. Leo’s Parish Elementary School where she eventually became principal. In the years at St. Leo’s and subsequently two other Catholic schools, Sister Benedicta never stopped learning. She earned a Master’s Degree in Administration, took classes in Mexican Culture, and studied at the Charismatic Bible Institute. In 1983 she became the Director of Religious Education in Angleton, Texas. Now if that doesn’t seem like quite enough, Sister Benedicta also took Karate classes at the parish.
After a sabbatical, and a return to her baptismal name, Sister Rosa entered the Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) program. Working as a contract chaplain at a Health Care Company, Sister Rosa felt the “Spirit of God was my guide to this holy ministry.” The Lord leads us where He will. For seventeen years God led Sister Rosa to minister as a chaplain in an ecumenical setting. This experience brought her great joy and spiritual growth.
In the summer of 2015, after retirement as a Health Care Chaplain, Sister Rosa found another of life’s blessings with the young children at the Child Development Center. “The Lord leads me to a new face of my journey,” Sister Rosa explains. “I encounter God’s little children. Lord, what do you say about little children? Yes, your words come to life as I see and experience your life for me through them. You teach me, love, trust, joy and complete letting go and letting you guide me. Thank you for the many blessings. Yes, now I am God’s grandma. It brings me great joy to hear those words.”