Sister Rose Patrick St. Aubin

Current Ministry Location: Maryknoll Sisters Center-Maryknoll, NY

Sister Rose Patrick St. Aubin was born May 19, 1928 in Appleton, WI to Matilda (Binon) St. Aubin and Amos St. Aubin. They had one other daughter, Carol and one son, Patrick. Rose Patrick graduated from St. Mary’s High School, Akron, OH in 1946

Rose Patrick May entered the Maryknoll Sisters August 12, 1946 at their Center in NY.  She professed First Vows April 6, 1949 at the Center and Final Vows April 6, 1952 on Likiep Atoll in the Marshall Islands. At the time of her Profession, she was given the religious name, Sister Rose Patrick.

Sister Rose Patrick’s first overseas mission assignment was to the Marshalls in 1950. There, her first assignment was on Likiep, where she taught first graders for ten years. She enjoyed teaching because the children wanted to learn and studied hard. Graduates went on to high school and became leaders in government, education, church and other walks of life.

Later, Sister Rose Patrick taught at Assumption School in Majuro, capital and largest island of the Marshall Islands. She taught first and second grades, with about 50 children in the morning and 50 more in the afternoon. While teaching youngsters, she also taught young women to be teachers.

Because there was no Language School in the Marshalls, the Sisters had to pick up both the language and the customs as they could.

Mail came irregularly by a boat from Kwajalein every four to six weeks, sometimes longer. With no refrigeration, the boat brought mainly canned foods.

A polio epidemic in the early 1960s left many children crippled. Sister Rose Patrick had ten children with polio in her first grade class, two in wheelchairs, and the others in braces. One child could not use his hands at all, so she, a born teacher, told him, “You can learn to write with your foot. Put the paper on the floor and the pencil between your toes.” When he succeeded to write his name, the class applauded him. He completed all twelve grades of school.

In the Marshall Islands, Sister Rose Patrick helped supervise three Catholic schools and gave teacher training in public and private schools. Their priority was the development of teaching skills among Marshallese teachers and catechists. She also worked with prayer leaders, encouraging the Marshallese local church with annual conferences on Majuro for continuing education for all these leaders.

In 1968, Sister Rose Patrick spent a week on the outer island of Arno, traveling by motor boat, transferring to a smaller boat, and finally wading through the last part of the safari. From then on, she took every opportunity to visit Arno on school holidays and summer vacations.

In 1972, Sister’s Majuro school duties ceased, and she began serving the outer islands full-time. The Marshall Island population of 61,000 was scattered over five single islands and 29 atolls (ring shaped coral reef growth atop underwater volcanoes.) These small islands were scattered over 70 square miles of land amidst 750,000 square miles of ocean. In most cases, the people didn’t have electricity, though some had solar power and generators.

After more than half a century serving the people of Likiep Atoll and the Outer Marshall Islands in the South Pacific, the Appleton, WI born educator happily considered herself finally fluent in Marshallese. It wasn’t easy to accomplish!

In 2010 the mission in Micronesia was completed and Sister retired to the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Ossining, NY, where she volunteered in the Sisters’ library, assisted other Sisters with small sewing needs and participated in a crochet group.

Sister Rose Patrick St. Aubin was honored to be the Maryknoll Sister who had lived the longest time in the Marshall Islands.