As editor of the Christ Our Life series, I once spent almost three months living in the Shelter of God’s Love in Chicago. This was a home for people with disabilities who have no other safe place to go. The home was the realized dream of Rosemary Koenig, a fiesty, petite, white-haired woman. Rosemary’s husband had left her to raise four children alone. After the children were grown and Rosemary retired, she wanted to do something to thank God for the many people who had helped her. So with hardly any money, she pursued the project of forming a community of needy people. A pastor, who Rosemary liked to say was as crazy as she, agreed to lease St. Andrew Parish’s convent to her. It included a chapel. Rosemary commented, “The nuns left, but Jesus stayed.” Proudly, Rosemary told me that my newly-carpeted room was the one where Cardinal Bernardin had vested when he came for the dedication of the Shelter.
When I arrived, the family comprised two women with cerebral palsy, two with spina bifida, one with multiple sclerosis, and one young blind woman. The members were an assorted group. Pam was a freckled Irish girl, while Diane was Black. “Tinkerbell” was about twenty-three, and Evelyn had had six children. Each night after supper the community prayed for their benefactors and for the intentions people had placed in the Shelter’s large Baby Jesus crib in the dining room. Rosemary’s faith in Divine Providence was unfailing and was always rewarded. She said that whatever she needed for her work, God supplied. A fundraiser yielded money to pay for an elevator to the penny. A piano was donated. When Rosemary needed to learn computer, a young woman showed up volunteering to live in the home for a year. She was computer literate.
After I left the Shelter, Rosemary began a second community in another house, one for elderly people. Then Rosemary took up a new ministry, mailing her friends and relatives a “Letter from Jesus” from time to time. I continued to receive the Shelter’s newsletter and a letter from Jesus until Rosemary’s death. I look forward to meeting her again someday.
When has Providence placed an extraordinary person like Rosemary along your path?