On October 23, 1930, the eighth child was born to Louis and Philomena Zachman in Rogers, Minnesota. This little girl, baptized Rosalia at St. Martin’s Church, had five brothers and two sisters who loved her, even if they always said, “She’s Dad’s girl.”
Rosalia told the story that when she was in the fourth grade, her Dad had his second heart attack and was very ill. She reported this to Sister Vincent and immediately Sister Vincent took all the children from grades one, two, three, and four to chapel. They prayed to Our Mother of Perpetual Help for her Dad.
Weeks passed and a missionary came to the parish and gave a talk and Louis, her Dad, was able to attend. After the talk, Louis purchased a picture of Our Mother of Perpetual Help and promised if he got well, he would build a shrine in her honor. He did build it on St. Martin’s Church grounds in Rogers and he lived to be 80 years old.
All the Zachman children attended St. Walburga Catholic School in Fletcher, Minnesota, and that is where they had the School Sisters of St. Francis and the Oblates of Mary Immaculate parish priest. In this small school there were often several Zachman children in the same classroom.
Time went on and Rosalia graduated from eighth grade. Early in summer a letter from Elk River High School arrived requesting her registration if she planned to attend in the fall. When the question reached her ears, she, without any thought, said, “No, I am going to the convent.” That was a surprise response to her Mom and Dad.
So in late summer of 1944 arrangements were made and in a few weeks this Minnesota girl was on her way to St. Joseph Convent in Milwaukee to join her two sisters, Sister Cecilia and Sister Genieve. At the same time, they had two brothers in the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate studying for the priesthood. The three sisters were able to attend their brothers’ First Masses.
After two years aspirancy and one year postulancy, Rosalia was received into the School Sisters of St. Francis Community on June 13, 1947, receiving the name Sister Walburga. She found it very hard not to be able to talk to her two sisters except on feast days.
Preparation for teaching began at Alverno College. In 1950, mission life began at Arlington Heights, Illinois, and then to missions in Wisconsin into the 1980s, teaching one, two, or three grades at a time.
In the 1970s, Sister Walburga went back to her baptismal name, Rosalia. Also small group living came about as convents closed and Sister Rosalia and Sister Ruth Hoemberg lived together in various places as their ministries changed. Their partnership fired their ministries. Sister Rosalia’s ministries went on to developing a remedial math program at Pius XI High School. She was curriculum director at LaFarge Lifelong Learning Institute and then director of personal services at Sacred Heart for our elderly sisters.
Sister Rosalia had an outgoing, welcoming, and joyful personality. Her smile and greeting welcomed everyone. Sister Rosalia could be a clown at the Fall Festival or talk with her hand puppet. She was always ready to give everyone a good laugh.
Retirement came in 2003, but she was busier than ever. She and Sister Ruth moved to the Motherhouse. Sister Rosalia volunteered for Chapel ministries, as Chapel tour guide, and in the Mission Advancement Office.
Her good friend Sister Ruth began to need assistance and she moved to Sacred Heart in 2015. Sister Rosalia came daily to visit her and brought a spark of joy to all she met along the way.
Finally, on October 5, 2020, Sister Rosalia moved to Sacred Heart to join her sister, Sister Cecilia. With the coronavirus all around, masks and social distancing didn’t provide for in-room visiting. Sister Rosalia’s joyful spirit penetrated the walls and the corridors.
On December 1, Sister Rosalia became ill and her condition did not improve. She was taken to St. Luke’s Hospital on December 9 and, shortly after, to heaven on December 10, 2020. Sister Rosalia, you often did things very fast, but this was too fast for all your sisters.
Sister Cecilia related, “Rosalia said, ‘I want to go first because I couldn’t bear to go to your funeral.’ Now she got her way, and as she went out in the ambulance, she looked at me, smiled, and had a twinkle in her eye. She made it!”
Sister Rosalia, you can now join God’s troubadour, St. Francis, as you continue to live in the joy of God’s presence and your home for all eternity. Please intercede for us until we will all join you some day in the joy and peace of heaven.