Sister Helen Rosenthal is my spiritual mentor and prayer partner. Here is an article about her published in the Blanca Morales – Florida Catholic. I believe I am the one who influenced her to start blogging a few years ago when she was 78 years old ( I like to claim the credit). She has become been an avid and consistent blogger ever since.

She joined the convent, saw the world

Sister Helen Rosenthal plans to retire after 60 years in education and religious life

Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Blanca Morales – Florida Catholic


MIAMI GARDENS — Since she found her vocation in both education and religious life, Sister Helen Rosenthal has seen much of the world: Europe, South America, North America. She has traveled so much that she often repeats the catchphrase, “Join the convent, see the world.”

Sister Rosenthal is making plans to retire this May after 60 years in religious life and nearly as many as an educator, the last 24 at St. Thomas University. But she plans to continue writing her blog, and perhaps even a book. She definitely has no plans to retire from her vocation.

As she wrote in her blog this February, on the occasion of her diamond jubilee as a religious: “I have felt the call more profoundly to attend to the quality of my relationships and to bear witness with great joy to the fidelity of God’s love. I think this is touching on the vocation within a vocation that most of us discover at some point in our lives. Mine has been to pipe a song of joy to Jesus and I continue to find new ways of doing this.”

Anyone who meets Sister Rosenthal can affirm that she is goal-oriented and energetic. She has spent her religious lifetime joyfully serving as an educator, having taught at all ages and levels, from kindergarten to post-master’s degree.

Born in St. Louis, Mo., she grew up as the eldest of four siblings. At age 19, she left her home to join the Society of the Sacred Heart.

After teaching in various cities, she made her finals vows in Rome on the morning of February 8, 1960 along with 46 other sisters from several countries. From Rome, she was sent to Valparaiso, Chile where she worked as a teacher and missionary until 1980.

While working in Chile, she realized the importance of continuing higher education when her students’ parents came to her with questions on faith and the Church.

In 1973, she briefly returned to her native Missouri, where she stayed close to her ailing mother while attending the Institute for Religious Formation at St. Louis University.

Along with her bachelor’s in English from Maryville University in St. Louis, Sister Rosenthal obtained a master’s in religious studies from St. Louis University, a master’s in education and another in guidance and counseling from the Catholic University of Valparaiso, and a doctorate in historical theology from the University of St. Louis.

In 1986, she began working for St. Thomas University as part of the Institute for Pastoral Ministries. There she founded the Center for Spirituality, the training program for spiritual directors, and the post-master’s program in spirituality studies.

She also served as chair of the religious studies, history and philosophy department for five years, bringing along her talents in efficiency and organization.

“I think what makes Helen unique is her ability to combine a big dream with single-mindedness,” said Mercedes Iannone, professor of religious studies at the university.

She describes Sister Rosenthal as hard-working, determined, and talented.

All her talents come with “a real sense of simplicity which is charming in one so hard-driving,” Iannone added.

Sister Rosenthal also is a sought-after speaker in religious and educational institutions worldwide. She has been invited to serve at retreats and give lectures in the Americas and Europe.

Even her loss of hearing — due to a fever contracted during her missionary years in Chile — resulted in a new educational opportunity. Nine years ago, she created the international Online Certificate Program in Spirituality Studies, where she teaches students worldwide through the Internet.

This unique collaborative learning program allows students to form an online community, sharing their lives and experiences. Many of her former students keep in touch with her and each other long after they have received their certificate.

“The course has given me the impetus as well as the research tools to go on deepening my own life of faith and the joy of some worthwhile and lasting friendships,” said alumna Jane Ward of Scotland.

She said the program is ideal for people who are retired or working fulltime — or live halfway around the world.

As she contemplates retirement, Sister Rosenthal confessed that she is quite enthusiastic about having more time to do one other thing that she loves: “I’ll be able to play more Scrabble now!”

Sister Rosenthal’s blog, “Reflections of an RSCJ” can be found at www.reflectionsofanrscj.blogspot.com.