Patti Armstrong is an award-winning author and was the managing editor and co-author of Ascension Press’ bestselling Amazing Grace series. Her latest books are: Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories From Everyday Families and Dear God, You Can’t Be Serious. She has a B.A. in social work and an M.A. in public administration and worked in both those fields before staying home to work as a freelance writer. Patti and her husband live in North Dakota, where they are still raising the tail end of their 10 children.
Saint Pope John Paul II had been looking for someone like Rosie Gil: an everyday housewife worthy of sainthood. He had canonized St. Gianna Molla (1922 –1962) in May 2004, an Italian pediatrician, wife, and mother who accepted death rather than abort her fourth child. The Pope wanted to also find a modern-day, saintly mother whose vocation was serving God and family at home.
After she passed away on December 26, 2010, Rosie’s family found many prayers and letters of encouragement that she wrote to her children. When her husband Robert shared them with several priests, the reaction was always the same: “Rosie is a saint.”
Fr. Angelus Shaughnessy with EWTN, read the writings and agreed. Robert explains in his talks, that Fr. Shaughnessy encouraged him to take the writings to Bishop Robert Baker of the diocese of Birmingham, Ala..
Cause for Beatification and Canonization
“Rose is a saint,” the Bishop concurred. He told Robert that JPII had wanted to canonize a housewife who cherished marriage and motherhood. Bishop Baker expressed the desire to open the Cause for Beatification and Canonization on Rosie. He told Robert to have a book written while they waited the usual 5-year waiting period before beginning the investigation. Rosie’s daughter Maria Thompson compiled See You in Heaven, a short biography and collection of Rosie’s writings. Much of those writings were advice for her children on how to instill the Catholic faith in their own children. Rosie would often write them, “See you in Heaven!”
Maria explained in an email that Bishop Baker is now looking for a priest to serve as the postulator to head up the investigation of Rosie’s life. In an interview with Catholic 365, Marie said that she and her 7 siblings grew up watching their mother live the kind of life they all want to emulate. “We see something beautiful and we want it for ourselves… She taught us what God saw best for us….” As a stay-at-home mother and homeschooler, Rosie gave them the message that “being a wife, mother and homemaker is being a handmaid of the Lord,” according to Maria.
After having read “See You in Heaven” myself, Rosie certainly seems to be a saint. However, her life and writings may stir up an array of emotions: inspiration, certainly, but perhaps also inadequacy, or guilt for not measuring up. It seemed that her every breath was for God and family. Yet, the lives of saints should not leave us feeling like less, but rather give us encouragement to want to do more for God.
Not everyone will share Rosie’s passion for homeschooling and sewing or creating a puppet theater with her family complete with lights, curtains and scripted performances. Rosie was also a foster parent to eight children over the years, prayed a daily Rosary with her family, and made big celebrations on the children’s patron saint feast days. She gave her all for God. And that was what she wanted most for her children.
When Rosie died of heart failure in 2010, the day after Christmas on the Feast of the Holy Family, it was unexpected. When Robert called from the hospital to tell the children their mother had died, he shared the good news that she was in heaven now.
Some of Rosie’s Writings
Motherhood is the most important thing that we can do for the country and our families.
When you lose patience, pray for grace and that gentle, sweet feminine spirit. Always strive to uphold the great dignity of your motherhood that God created into your being from the beginning. Remember, during these most important and formative years, YOU are the apple of your child’s eye, so try always to have a smile for him.
Every mother knows the cry and sometimes bothersome restlessness of the toddler. Yet she also knows the tremendous warmth and affection that should go with this interruption. SO don’t forget to stop what you are doing and give that needed TLC (Tender Loving Care) to the baby and toddler. These are really special times that you know you will always treasure. This is the true JOY of mothering: yielding to these untimely moments of affection. Don’t throw these precious moments to the wind. You will see the fruits of all your efforts preserved and carried on in later years. But most of all your greatest reward will be in HEAVEN. SO let us hang in there…And let us never forget that we are all called to be saints.
Prayer: Heaven—My True Home
I love you my God. Help me to see that the only purpose I have here on earth is to be in heaven with you one day. I just keep this thought forever on my mind. I must not let the things of this world distract me from You, my good Jesus. I am here only to do Your Holy Will. All things I have and do come from You, my Lord. If I try to think and do what You want, I will always be happy here on earth and I will then reach my eternal reward; heaven. I want to offer up all of my days to You. I want to please You more and more each day.