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Sr. Rosemarie Higgins, FMM (M. Margaret of Lorraine) died Sunday, September 23, 2018 at Saint Antoine Residence. Born in Brockton, MA, she was a daughter of the late William and Agnes (Brides) Higgins.
Rosemarie was next to the youngest in a family of seven siblings born to devout Catholic parents, William and Agnes. The Church was the center of her family's life, and appreciation for the gift of faith was instilled in each one. With the onslaught of World War II, and three older brothers drafted for war, she learned from uncles, father and mother, skills in carpentry, plumbing, electricity, car repair, and gardening as well as other household tasks, all of which have stood her in good stead throughout her life. ·
Sports were a driving force in her life. She was more proud of her athletic prowess than her academic studies. She had considered becoming a professional baseball player or a physical education teacher. At age twelve, she decided that she would like to be a missionary to China. This aspiration was reinforced when she attended a mission exhibit and took home the holy card of our FMM martyrs. She decided that preparation for health care would be more useful as a missionary, but lacking funds to study as a doctor, chose nursing.
After completing her nursing studies, Rosemarie worked as a staff nurse, head nurse, clinical instructor and member of the faculty, of St. Elizabeth's Hospital, teaching Public Health. These were years of independence, travel, and fun. The idea of becoming a missionary was placed on the back burner. However, daily Mass, Vespers, and Benediction at Kennedy Memorial Hospital were a part of her life as well as being a member of the Third Order Secular of St. Francis. She completed her BA studies and had almost completed her MA in Education. An FMM for whom she cared assured her that she had a vocation to the Institute and promised to pray for her, which she did, for nine years. Alone one weekend while poring over offers of scholarships and fellowships for completing her studies, she says that she heard an interior voice asking "Quo Vadis?" Where are you going? The Hound of Heaven had caught up with her. She immediately wrote for admission to the Institute and entered at Fruit Hill September 15, 1957.
After making her First Vows, March 19th, 1960 and her Final Vow, the same day in 1963, Rosemarie’s first missionary sending was to St. Francis Hospital, Roslyn, NY where she worked as a staff nurse, head nurse and evening supervisor in the hospital. On her feast day, November 6th, she received her mission-sending to Malaysia. After a brief stay in Rome, she flew to Malaysia so as to be in time for the next new class of student nurses. In collaboration with Madonna Purcell, fmm, she taught as well as set up a Central Supply Room and supervised its functioning, Rosemarie returned to the States on a USA government grant to obtain a Master of Science in Community Health Nursing so as to better respond to the changes in the Malaysian Nursing curriculum.
Circumstances and a severe back injury prevented her return. These were times of trial. She was assigned to collaborate on a team that was preparing for the next Provincial Chapter. This led to Rosemarie being assigned as Coordinator of Provincial Communications, a ministry she has continued to fulfill for years. A peak experience for her was participation as a capitular in the General Chapter of 1978-79. This reinforced and energized her commitment as an FMM. She served two terms as a Provincial Councilor as well as community Coordinator, a brief time as Directress of Young Religious and extensive time as the Administrator of the FMM Nursing Facility. This latter posed the greatest challenge of her life as she relentlessly pursued the licensure and certification of both the Skilled Nursing facility and the Assisted Living Center. Rosemarie started a Tree Project, which is ongoing and there are Tree Stewards who still come to this day and all of this has made Fruit Hill more beautiful. Many were drawn to Rosemarie’s love of creation and care for the environment.
Although various illnesses and losses have taken their toll, she has accepted them as part of life's journey, as she continued to deepen her life as a Franciscan Missionary of Mary, ever mindful of that which she had promised.
Sister’s funeral will be held on Friday, September 28 at 11:00 am in Holy Family Chapel, 399 Fruit Hill Avenue, North Providence. Burial will follow in Holy Family Cemetery. Visiting hours will be held in Holy Family Chapel on Thursday, September 27 from 4 to 8 pm.