Sister Rose Mary Stein, OP, named ‘Woman of the Year’
By David Myers
Southwest Kansas Register
Sister Rose Mary Stein, OP, pastoral minister for adult education/formation at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe, has been named “Woman of the Year” by the Dodge City Area Women’s Chamber of Commerce.
She is being recognized for her devotion to empowering women’s gifts and leadership, and for her efforts in helping those in need during numerous mission trips to locations such as Greensburg, New Orleans, American Indian reservations, Africa, and others.
Sister Rose Mary will receive a trophy at the Dodge City Area Chamber of Commerce awards banquet Feb. 20. at 6 p.m. (Reservations are required to attend).
She was nominated by chamber member Kathleen Jones, who attends Sister Rose Mary’s ladies spirituality group each week at the cathedral.
“What I really think that Sister does -- that she doesn’t maybe realize -- is have an impact on women to make us better people, to make us realize that we’re important,” Jones said.
“She’s a very good person in that she brings out the best in people. She makes you understand that you have something important to say and to do for other people. I think that’s really important.
“The purpose of this is to recognize women who have given more than they realize,” Jones added. “Sometimes people get sidestepped. I was just really tickled when she got the award.”
Women’s Chamber President Virginia Crick remembers the moment that Sister Rose Mary was informed of the honor. She was attending a community service awards dinner in which the Women’s Chamber presented more than $20,000 to various organizations. The Women’s Chamber raises the money each year through concession sales at the Dodge City rodeo.
“She had a fork-full of food about half way to her mouth and she slowly put it down and looked at Kathleen, like, Did she really just say my name?” Crick said, smiling.
Crick first met Sister Rose Mary last September when Sister Rose Mary was asked to do the invocation for the Women’s Chamber 50th anniversary banquet.
“I was so impressed with what you said,” Crick said to Sister Rose Mary during the SKR interview from an office at the High Plains Journal, where Crick serves as administrative assistant. “When I was sitting at the table with Sister [during the banquet], I got such a sense of peace from her….”
Sister Rose Mary has organized numerous mission trips in which women of various ages attended and helped with the many projects over the years -- helping paint homes for the elderly in Colorado, teaching children on American Indian reservations in Oklahoma, doing construction in Americus, Georgia, with Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter and in Greensburg and New Orleans, and working with Dominican Sisters in Africa. Closer to home, she leads a spirituality group for women, provides ladies’ retreats, and scripture study groups for young, middle age, and older women. She was also the initiator of the Sunflower Community Garden in Dodge City.
She said that the greatest joy of her ministry has been in empowering women.
“I have tried every possible avenue to encourage women to believe in themselves, and that’s been my greatest joy,” she said.
“I’ve just believed so heartily that there are women out there who have some of the same gifts, some of the same possibilities, but have never been encouraged to use them.
“When I received this award I thought, Dear God, is that what you’re telling me, that all these years that I’ve struggled and worked hard and never really always felt like it was where the Church wanted me to be -- that’s where you want me?
“It now seems like, through this award, God has said, ‘Rose Mary, I want you to know, you’re on the right road,’” she said, smiling.
While serving in Africa, she experienced Dominican Sisters trying to empower local women who were “20 or 30 years behind us. And I see where women are in our society, and I thought, well, these women [in Africa] can be there too, someday.”
The Dodge City Area Women’s Chamber of Commerce formed in 1959 when eight women broke off from the Dodge City Area Chamber of Commerce.
“The Women’s Chamber didn’t used to be Women’s Chamber,” Crick said. “It was just part of the Chamber of Commerce. Women got tired of doing all the stuff that the men didn’t want to do -- arranging for the dinners, this and that.”
Eight women whose husbands were high on the chamber ladder decided that “They were tired of being an auxiliary,” Crick added. “These ladies said, ‘We’re going to start our own organization,’ and that’s how the Women’s Chamber started.”
The Women’s Chamber currently counts approximately 75 members. They meet the fourth Tuesday of each month at Casey’s Cowtown in Dodge City, alternating between lunch time and evening gatherings. It is open to women of any age.
“I feel very grateful to God and to the chamber women,” Sister Rose Mary said.
“And we feel grateful to you,” Crick responded.