“I received my medal for the Child of Mary today. As I told you before, this is the highest honor and blessing a Sacred Heart girl can get and one we can strive for. We are supposed to be a model and a help in the school and someone to be depended upon, etc.” (34).
“This is the feast of the Sacred Heart, and I could tell you a great deal about it and a great many other feast days which we have been having lately” (34).
“It was decided that we would not go back to Europe for another year’s study. (Their mother had been terribly lonely when they were away) “Instead, Agnes went to Sacred Heart Convent at Providence, Rhode Island. . ., and I went to the Sacred Heart Convent at Manhattanville, New York” (36).
Rose, the student, wrote delightful prose. Rose, the nonagenarian, wrote a beautiful but poignant memoir. Having read great literature, she instilled the joy of reading to her children. Her quick Irish humor served her well.
When Premier Krushchev signed photographs of himself and President Kennedy and returned them to Rose, she sent them to her son with a note about her plan to have the photographs signed by him and then make the exchange with Krushchev.
“I received the following letter from (Jack): ‘Dear Mother: If you are going to contact the head of state, it might be a good idea to consult me or the State Department first, as your gesture might lead to international complications. Love, Jack.’”
“Dear Jack: I am so glad you warned me about contacting the head of state, as I was just about to write to Castro. Love, Mother” (348).
Years later while musing about her faith Rose Kennedy gave strong witness to it.
“If God were to take away all His blessings, health, physical fitness, wealth, intelligence, and leave me but one gift, I would askfor faith – for with faith in Him, in His goodness, mercy, love for me, and belief in everlasting life, I believe I could suffer the loss of my other gifts and be happy – trustful, leaving all to His inscrutable providence” (444).
In addition to steadfast devotion to the Mother of God and to the Stations of the Cross, Rose writes this:
“Another favorite is the Meditations by Cardinal Newman, which always brings me consolation when I am discouraged and find myself in an inexplicable dilemma—some turn of events that seems to be unexpected and unnecessary” (446).
Rose had absorbed, she had assimilated the very best that convent schools could offer. Faith permeating a family, thoroughly-educated, articulate, and mission-oriented—this was Rose’s vocation, her responsibility, and her deep joy.
Rose had almost everything, including length of days. As with so many families, tragedy struck time and again, and in a very public way. Yet, she bore each with unimaginable grace—after she traipsed back and forth along the beach of the family compound, alone, her head scarf flapping in the wind, her hand clutching a rosary.
The Book of Judith aptly describes this ‘product’ of convent schools and the matriarch of a distinguished American family:
“Now she was a very beautiful, charming woman to see
with a beguiling tongue
demonstrating to every nation, every tribe
that God is almighty and all-powerful.
Her fame spread more and more the older she grew in her husband’s house;
she lived to the age of a hundred and five” (Judith: 8:7; 9: 14; 16: 23-24).
To be continued ...