Sister Rose Marie Holden was born at home on Taylor Street in Phoenix, Arizona, May 17, 1923, to Susana and Harry Holden, good and faithful Catholics who raised to adulthood their family of eight children – the three girls: Suzanna, Cecilia and Rose Marie; and five boys: Harry, Jack, Anthony, Joseph and Patrick.

Sister Rose Marie attended St. Mary’s elementary school and high school, founded by the Sisters of the Precious Blood. At 17, she entered the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, but soon left as she was too young to adapt to religious life. She took her first job at First National Bank in downtown Phoenix as a machine bookkeeper. She worked for the war effort during World War II in a plant that manufactured airplane wings. After three years of nurses’ training, she worked nine years as a nursing assistant to Dr. Elton Charvoz, a general practitioner and pediatric specialist in Phoenix. When he died, she took a job with Maricopa County, first in the secretarial pool of the engineering department and then for the juvenile division as an intake officer. Sister was also the president of the local AFL-CIO Union.

Sister Rose Marie served in the Legion of Mary at St. Mary Parish in Phoenix.

The president of the Legion entered the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows in Soquel, California, and told Sister Raymond, the superior there, about Sister Rose Marie. Sister Raymond wrote to Sister Rose Marie, inviting her to visit the convent in Soquel. Sister Rose Marie was caring for her aged mother and then her eldest sister Susanna, who was diagnosed with cancer and moved into the house with her six children. Sister Rose Marie continued to care for the children after her sister died. She was eventually able to respond to the invitation, and in her mid-40s, Sister Rose Marie reentered religious life. She made her perpetual profession Aug. 15, 1973.

She helped Sister Raymond to begin the Institute in Catholic Teaching, a summer program that was elevated to a Pontifical Institute. The Institute continues to this day, on a smaller scale, offering outstanding speakers in a one-week retreat setting every summer at Our Lady of Peace Retreat in Beaverton. In 1977 she and Sister Angela Aldi left Beaverton for Gallup, New Mexico for an almost 32-year adventure where they revived and built up the Sacred Heart Retreat House with the encouragement of the local bishop. They also opened and maintained for many years a home for delinquent girls sent to them from the Navajo Nation and State of New Mexico.

Sister Rose Marie returned to the Beaverton Convent of the Franciscan Missionary Sisters in 2009. With her Irish sense of humor, she referred to this as “the end of the trail.” However, she did then spend several years as a greatly loved local superior.

Sister passed into eternal life on March 4 at the convent infirmary. Earlier that day, she had the unusual privilege of having Mass offered in her room by a Norbertine friend of the community, Father Gregory Dick, O. Praem.

The rosary, held on March 9, and funeral Mass, March 10, were held in the retreat house chapel with Archbishop John Vlazny, Bishop Kenneth Steiner and Abbot Jonathan Decker concelebrating. Sister’s nieces Barbara and Teresa Damiani and Sheila Ray traveled from Phoenix to attend the services. Interment was in the Franciscan Missionary Sisters’ burial plot at Mt. Calvary Cemetery in Portland.

She is survived by 11 nieces and five nephews and their spouses, 32 grandnieces and grandnephews, and many great-grandnieces and great-grandnephews, who will dearly miss her as will her own community. The community asks that readers, “in your charity to remember in your prayers our always upright and ever-faithful Sister Rose Marie.”

Remembrances may be made to the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows Infirmary, 3600 SW 170th Ave., Beaverton, OR 97003 or online at