Reverend Mother Dorcas (née Mary Loretta) Rosenlund, 93, member of the Abbey of Regina Laudis, died at the Abbey on May 20, 2021, from complications due to old age. Mother Dorcas entered Regina Laudis in 1982 after distinguishing herself in two careers, in Public Relations and in Medicine as a Pediatric Gastroenterologist. She was the Abbey's baker for over thirty years and founded the Contemplative Medical Center of Regina Laudis.
Mary Loretta Rosenlund was born on August 4, 1927, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Arthur and Helen Ternon Rosenlund. She was proud of her Swedish roots on her father's side and Irish and English roots on her mother's side of the family. She graduated from Mount Saint Joseph Academy and received her Bachelor's Degree, majoring in English, at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia. These schools, her class mates, and the city of Philadelphia always held a special place in her heart.
Upon completion of a Master’s Degree in Public Relations at Boston University in 1950, she held positions in public relations at the Philadelphia Bulletin and the Lily Tulip Cup Corporation. Her volunteer work at a hospital inspired her to pursue a medical career. She attended Boston University School of Medicine, graduating as a medical doctor in 1965. She did a Residency in Pediatrics at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and a Fellowship in Pediatric Gastroenterology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, followed by classroom and clinical professorships at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.
Mary Loretta entered Regina Laudis as a postulant in 1982. She was clothed with the monastic habit in 1983 and received the Greek name Dorcas meaning gazelle (in Aramaic Tabitha). Dorcas was one of the early disciples from Joppa, known for her acts of charity, especially for sewing garments for widows and the poor. St. Peter raised Dorcas from the dead through his words: “Tabitha, arise".
During her early monastic life Sister Dorcas was encouraged by our Foundress, Lady Abbess Benedict, herself a physician, to stay actively involved in her medical profession. From 1983-1990 she held consulting appointments in Gastroenterology at St. Mary's hospital, Waterbury CT and Yale New Haven Hospital and was a Clinical Instructor in Pediatrics at Yale University School of Medicine.
Mother Dorcas cherished her time learning to bake under the tutelage of Mother Anne Boehm, F.S.E., master baker at the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist's center in Lowell, Michigan. Mother Dorcas has taught many new community members and monastic interns to bake. Although for most of her monastic life, she no longer actively practiced medicine per se, for her, the care taken in kneading the dough for bread was similar to a physician's touch of the human body. Her matzo was served at our Holy Thursday Mandatum and friends who celebrate Passover fondly remember making matzo with her for their sacred meal.
Mother Dorcas made Final Vows in 1995 and received the Blessing of Monastic Consecration on July 11, 2007, Feast of St. Benedict, at the hands of Archbishop Henry J. Mansell. She was a founding member of the Contemplative Medical Center, established at Regina Laudis in the 1980s at the request of Lady Abbess Benedict, who sensed the need for physicians to have a place of contemplative centering and integration. The core group of physicians sponsors retreat days for medical students and residents from hospitals and medical schools in the area. Their mission is to provide support for one another and physicians in formation as they face the demands of their vocation to heal. Mother Dorcas loved gardening and landscaping and cared for the grounds of the Contemplative Medical Center as well as St. Martin's guest house.
Mother Dorcas also served many years as a liaison to Promisek, a lay Catholic educational and environmental association, founded on Benedictine principles and dedicated to facilitating the emergence of an authentic lay spirituality for our time, in dialogue with people of other faiths.
We thought we had lost her several times, but true to her name, she always made a miraculous comeback. This allowed the community to have her in our midst for the precious last years of her life. We were so grateful she was able to enjoy the improved accessibility of our renovated building, attending more community events, and praying with us in the new chapel. We will always fondly remember her presence with us for Mass on this past Easter Sunday. How fitting that she would begin her final Transitus within the Octave of the Ascension.
Mother Dorcas is survived by her monastic community, her sister Hope and nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her brothers David, Arthur, Jr., and Tim. The caregivers of Vitas and Acuity Homecare are gratefully acknowledged.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Requiem Mass and burial in the Abbey cemetery will be private. In lieu of flowers, donations to the New Horizons Renovation Project would be gratefully accepted on-line or c/o The Abbey of Regina Laudis, 273 Flanders Road, Bethlehem, CT 06751.