In Memoriam

Sister Ann Rozalia Szabo, OP


The small city of Tucumcari, New Mexico, on the eastern side of the state not far from the Texas border, was home to St. Anne’s Parish School, staffed by Adrian Dominican Sisters – and to the Szabo family.

Louis Szabo and Florence Murphy – he of Hungarian descent and born in Alma, Texas, she of Irish extraction and from Clarksdale, Illinois – met in 1927, some years after both families had moved to New Mexico. Florence was a schoolteacher in Miera, New Mexico, when she decided to join a club for Catholic singles, and she and Louis were matched up as pen pals. Three years later, the couple married and settled in Tucumcari.

Louis was a machinist for the Rock Island-Southern Pacific Railroad as well as a farmer. He never finished high school, but he had taught himself how to repair locomotives, how to farm, and how to do electrical and plumbing work. “My dad was a silent, hard-working man who loved nature, had a thirst and respect for knowledge and was known all over this area for his helpfulness, honesty and generosity,” wrote his daughter Eleanora, the future Sister Ann Rozalia, in a July 28, 1980, St. Catherine letter.

Born on August 12, 1932, Eleanora Isobel Szabo was actually the second of twin daughters, but little Rozalia Ann died just five hours after her birth. Delivery took place at home, since the town had no hospital then, so when Florence developed severe complications Louis arranged for her, his sister Mary, and Eleanora to travel by train to Oklahoma City and a hospital there. One of the family’s goats, Bee-bee, also made the trip in a crate Louis made for her, in order to provide milk because Florence was unable to nurse her baby; but as it turned out, Bee-bee was so stressed by the travel that she quit giving milk and “I was a Carnation baby after that,” Sister Ann Rozalia wrote in her autobiography. 

Read more about Sister Ann Rozalia (pdf)

make a memorial giftMemorial gifts may be made to Adrian Dominican Sisters, 1257 East Siena Heights Drive, Adrian, Michigan, 49221.

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Avatar  Steven Bucholtz 5 years agoReply

I didn't know Sister personally but got to know her through the video. What a wonderful woman! May she rest in peace and rise in glory!

Avatar  Christopher F. martinez 5 years agoReply

I was privileged to have worked with Sr, Anne the for years she worked at St. John the Baptist parish in San Juan Pueblo. She was the director for RCIA and Liturgy. It was also my four years of high school. She was a great inspiration and helped me develop a love for the catholic liturgy and sacred environment. We worked together at the particular liturgical seasons to enhance the liturgical spaces and to prepare for liturgical celebrations. She was instrumental in organizing our local shrine’s 100th anniversary. One common thing we both held deep in our hearts is the we both we on the same side when the pastor at the time removed her from her ministry because she wanted the local ordinary to help him seek treatment for his alcoholism of which he fought both of us until the ordinary at the time sent him for treatment. This bond was strong and showed that fraternal correction and mercy can only strengthen ourlove for Christ. Her musical, artistic and feline love were an inspiration to many with our Pueblo parish faith community. May she Rest In Peace with Dominic and Catherine, whom she loved and imitated.

Avatar  Frances Shay 4 years agoReply

Dear Christopher,
Thank you for your kind words about Sr. Ann Rozalia. Her one year anniversary is coming in just a few weeks, and I have not been here for a while.
Of all her ministries, I was most proud of her time at St. John’s. She loved being there, and I as her baby sister loved visiting her there. Until the day she died, she had many good friends there. With Love, her sister Frances Shay

Avatar  Jennifer Duncan-Boyden 5 years agoReply

Sister Ann Rosalia was an amazing teacher and friend. She, quite literally, changed the course of my life. Her warmth, unending kindness and support helped me in some dark childhood times. We will not see her like again. Thank you, Sister Ann Rosalia, for all the lives you touched. ♥️

Avatar  Frances Shay 5 years agoReply

Dear Jennifer,
Thank you for your kind and loving words. I am Sr. Ann’s sister in Tucumcari, NM. I am so glad that we are hearing of her great love for her students and friends. She truly touched every person she met. I loved her so much myself.
It is a joy to remember her kindness.
Where were you her student? Where are you now? It is nice to read your post!
Frances Shay

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