Rosie, Bishop Morlino and the Benedictines


I started writing this article many months ago but couldn’t finish it because…well, it was just a hard time. Then, recently, I was reminded of it when I listened to a Taylor Marshall Podcast where  the good Father Richard Heilman mentioned the support of Bishop Morlino in his efforts to get reverence back in his church and in his Mass at St. Mary’s of Pine Bluff, Wisconsin.

So I dusted off the article and decided to finish it… (with Mother Abbess’ approval).

As Catholics, we know our sufferings are very powerful. A lot of the times we can’t see the benefit, at least not right away. But sometimes God gives us a peek at how efficacious they can be. This is what happened to us in the short time Rosie was in the convent.

It was October 2018 and Rosie was preparing her heart and her trousseau for her entrance into the Benedictine Abbey in Gower, MO…a convent with over forty nuns living the Traditional Benedictine way, with the Traditional Latin Mass offered daily.

Rosie was excited, yet nervous about this new step in her life. In the five years prior she had experienced some rather severe health problems….but had been stable for almost a year. So, Mother Abbess was willing to have Rosie try her vocation.

The first week and a half were pretty typical to a young lady first entering the convent. Rosie was homesick and had the pains of breaking into a life of much prayer and work….getting up very early and going through the motions, rather numb from the newness of it all.

Then one night, Rosie couldn’t make it to Compline. She was sitting on the bench in the hall, watching as the nuns were going the opposite way. She was feeling a familiar, terrible anticipation of what the sisters later called “episodes”…seizure-like episodes. All the nuns were walking away from her and she could feel herself slipping…

A while later, when Rosie woke up, she had five nuns staring at her with concern. Rosie’s world came crashing down on her. She had been through this before and when it got to this point, things would begin to spiral downward, to the point of complete disability.

And that’s what happened.

This time it seemed worse, though, than the other two times, because she was having more “episodes”. It was very concerning to the nuns and they felt like she needed answers.

In the past, we were always put off by the doctors shrugging their shoulders, telling us that these episodes were panic attacks, etc.

Mother Abbess was calling and emailing me giving updates, etc. She called one day to tell me that Rosie would have to go home. I knew it was coming….of course. She was taking up much energy and time for the nuns, who were looking after her around the clock. And she was only a candidate! (I will always be so grateful to the nuns for how they looked after Rosie…they were truly like angels!)

Before Rosie left, Reverend Mother wanted her to have some tests done. Rosie had an MRI and an EEG. Nothing showed up.

The next test to be done was with a heart halter. She would wear it for 48 hours only. In that time, they would hope Rosie would have an episode so they could monitor what the heart was doing….

The second day went by and Rosie’s “episodes” were not cooperating. So the sisters knew they had to do something…they would try to provoke an episode. Through their own doctor, they had learned what a “tilt-table” test was and they decided they would try that.

The few nuns that were Rosie’s caregivers were gathered around her bed. They had her lay flat for a while and then they were going to get her up very quickly.

Rosie was scared. As one can imagine, she did not like these episodes and the thought of bringing one on was a bit, shall we say, terrifying! We needed answers, though, and this was an important step…

It was then that Mother Abbess came in the room and told the nuns that she had just got news that Bishop Morlino was dying.

Bishop Morlino’s name was well-known around Traditional and Conservative circles. Wisconsin (where he was bishop) was very open to having the Traditional Latin Mass and other traditional devotions and orders.

The Bishop had invited these wonderful nuns to start a foundation in his diocese and Mother Abbess and the nuns were on the verge of doing just that! So…hearing that Bishop Morlino was dying was no little thing in their eyes! Some of the nuns began to cry.

Reverend Mother looked at Rosie and said, “We must pray for him.”

Rosie answered, “Well, I guess this is for him, then.”

What happened next was not pretty. It was one of the worst episodes Rosie ever experienced. She went into a semi-consciousness and her body experienced what one would call a “charlie-horse” or a “seizing-up”…and it was all through her body! The episode itself lasted for one hour…from 8:00pm – 9:00pm. The nuns found it quite alarming.

Afterwards, it took the good sisters 3 hours of rubbing and massaging to get Rosie’s stiffened legs and feet to maneuver again. One of the dear nuns slept on the floor at her bedside that night.

Rosie had offered this particular episode for Bishop Morlino. What she was to find out in the next few days was edifying….

On one of the following days, Mother Abbess came into Rosie’s room with tear-filled eyes to tell her what she had found out about Bishop Morlino’s death and how it seemed to coincide with what Rosie had experienced…and offered up for him.

The morning Rosie had her episode, Bishop Morlino became unconscious. The doctors were befuddled because all through the day, he seemed to have a “seizing-up of sorts”…in his body. The doctors didn’t know the reason for it…but it went on throughout the whole day. It was very hard for those who were close to him to witness.

At 8:00pm that night (right when Rosie went into her own “seizing-up” episode…and offered it for the good Bishop), the seizing-up of the Bishop stopped and he was peaceful for the next hour.

At 9:00pm (when Rosie came out of the episode), Bishop Morlino peacefully passed away.

It was as if Rosie had taken that particular suffering of Bishop Morlino for the last hour of his life.

Was it a coincidence…this timeline? I don’t think so. And neither did Mother Abbess and the nuns. As Sister put it, “He definitely had complete peace and alleviation from them lining up with Rosie’s episode.” Even to have access to this kind of information (through Mother Abbess) was a grace.

We were all edified. And for Rosie, whose journey since then (it has been a year since she entered the convent and five years that she has had some kind of mysterious illness), it was one of those epic moments showing the goodness of God and that all suffering is like gold…buying graces for all of our loved ones.

Mother Abbess gave Rosie one of the two crosses she had received from Bishop Morlino…blessed by Pope John Paul II. The other one she had mounted on her Coat of Arms.

It will remain a treasured memory of a faithful Bishop, an amazing Benedictine Convent and one girl’s sufferings.


“Love and sacrifice is thus as closely connected as the sun and the light. You can’t love without suffering and suffer without loving. It is with sacrifice that so confirms love “. – Santa Gianna Beretta Molla
Painting by Hermann Kaulbach (1846 – 1909, German)

May your All Hallows Eve be blessed! “‘Hallowe’en,’ as said, means ‘All Hallows’ Evening’ which is as Catholic a holiday as one can get. Let us pray to all the Saints that they might intercede and bring pagans to Christ so they might know the peace that comes from knowing that God loves them so much that He allowed Himself to take on a human nature, to suffer, and to die for them… “

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