Sr. Rosina Bechard, F.C.S.C.J.
By Katie Fiermonti, Photography by Charlene Graham
When Sister Rosina Bechard, F.C.S.C.J., spies a ruby red cardinal sitting in a tree outside her home in Milford, she always takes it as a sign that God is with her. The cheerful songbird is, for her, a reminder of God’s presence in all things, and she often wears a cardinal pin to celebrate her faith in God’s plan. “It’s a blessing when I see one,” says Sister Rosina. “He sings and he sings and he sings. Our God is the God of surprises, and just like seeing a cardinal in a tree, you’ve got to pay attention or you’ll miss him. In a life of faith there is no such thing as coincidence. It’s providence.”
Sister Rosina, 76, who grew up in New York State, has always paid attention to the signs pointing her down the path to becoming a sister of the Daughters of the Charity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Founded in France by Jean-Maurice Catroux and Rose Giet in 1823, the order’s members across nine countries dedicate themselves to making the Sacred Heart known and loved. “It was always one of those ‘knowing without knowing’ things,” she remembers. She was a second grader being taught by the order the first time she felt God calling to her. “It was a rainy day. Sister told us we could play hide and seek, and I decided to hide under her desk where I played with her rosary. I remember thinking, ‘I want one of these!’” When her aunt became a nun she remembers her family crying at the ceremony. “But I was so happy. It was just a sense of this is where I need to be.
“I was a pretty normal kid growing up on a farm on the shores of Lake Champlain. I swam, skated, and had picnics. The most difficult thing was telling my high school boyfriend that I had to try out my calling or I’d always regret it. He asked if he could still take me to the prom. I said, ‘Yes, please,’” she says with a laugh. After graduating high school in 1956, she entered the novitiate (then located in Colebrook) and made her first vows in 1959 as a sister of the Daughters of the Charity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Through her career, she has taught elementary and secondary school, managed a catechetical center, worked in formation ministry, and served in provincial leadership. She now ministers as a spiritual director and retreat director both at Berakah in Pittsfield, New Hampshire, and at home in Milford. “I often ask two questions of people who come for spiritual direction: ‘In your own words, describe your faith journey,’ and ‘How do you pray,’” says Sister Rosina,
who serves as lector and Eucharistic minister at Saint Patrick Parish in Milford. “Listening to people and sharing faith with them keeps me more aware of my own journey and reaffirms it. And it keeps me busy! I’m aware of God’s presence, and I love what I do. I’ve never questioned it.” Sister Rosina says the core mission of the order is to make the Sacred Heart of Jesus known and loved through compassionate ministering to others. She and her two other sisters in Milford work to improve the education and healthcare systems for children, teens, and adults by teaching, spiritual direction, and through various retreat programs. “We’re trying to bring love and tenderness to the world through our human actions,” she says.
When Sister Rosina was a little girl, one of her recollections of a parish Mass remains a cherished memory. “I remember the flowers, the incense, the music, and candles,” she smiles. “It’s my first memory of the reality of God. My relationship with God as a teenager began with the Holy Spirit, who was and remains, mystery to this very day. At that young age, it was just amazing to me that God would talk to me, and yet I never question it. In and through prayer, God is my ‘beloved,’ and that is what God calls me.”
For more stories and information about the Year of Consecrated Life beginning in November 2014, visit www.catholicnh.org/religious.