Margaret Rodericks, SCN

Posted by Spalding Hurst

October 23, 2023

Margaret Rodericks, SCN, 86, was born January 28, 1937, in Bandra, Bombay, India, to Rudolph Anthony Roderick and Florence G. Ferreira. One of six children, she was their only daughter. She died on October 21, 2023, at Nazareth, Ky. She was a professed Sister of Charity of Nazareth for 60 years.

Sister Margaret said she was raised in a spiritual atmosphere of prayer and service. She believes this is why three of the six children in her family entered religious life.

Before joining the SCNs, Sister Margaret received a teaching diploma from St. Xavier Institute in India. Sister Margaret completed the SCN Juniorate Program in 1964 in Mokama, Bihar, India. She was a Nazareth College, Nazareth, KY student until 1965. She earned a Master’s degree in Psychology from Fordham University in New York and a Master’s Degree in Pastoral Counseling from Iona College in New York.

From 1970-1972, she served in the Department of Documentation and Planning for the Catholic Bishops Conference of India.

Sister Margaret served her SCN Community for many years as the Assistant Director of Formation in Mokama and Director of Education and Temporary Professed in Mokama and Ranchi. She served in leadership as the Provincial in Mokama, Bihar, India from 1977-1983. Later, she was General Secretary of the Congregation at Nazareth from 1993-1998.

In 1984 she began teaching as a college instructor for Thomas Baptista Junior College in Bassein, India, and St. Gonsalo Garcia Senior College in Bassein. In 1988, Sister Margaret served as a consultant to the Center for Academic Development at Spalding University in Louisville, Ky. Sister Margaret worked for many years at Spalding University in academic development and as the international student coordinator.

She is survived by her brother, Audry R. J. Rodericks, of Girona, Spain, by her extended family and by her religious community, the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth.

The Funeral Mass will be on Thursday, Oct. 26, at 10:30 a.m. Visitation will be Wednesday, Oct. 25 at 4 p.m., and Wake at 6:30 p.m. All will be held at St. Vincent Church, Nazareth, Ky. Burial in the Nazareth Cemetery.

Funeral Arrangements are being handled by Houghlin Greenwell Funeral Home, 1475 New Shepherdsville Road, Bardstown, Ky. 40004. Memorials may be offered to the Office of Mission Advancement, P.O. Box 9, Nazareth, Ky., 40048.

8 Comments

  1. Isaac McDaniel

    In the summer of 2006 I began presiding at a weekly Mass in a small, secluded chapel on the second floor of the Mansion at Spalding University. Among the half-dozen worshipers was Sister Margaret Rodericks, a Sister of Charity of Nazareth who had served for more than a decade as the school’s International Student Coordinator.
    Margaret regularly attended the Tuesday liturgies, and before long she began helping me to organize the weekly liturgies. She distributed Communion, made weekly announcements and recruited others to read and to bring up the offertory gifts. She welcomed visitors by name and seemed to know everyone on campus. She brought fresh flowers from Nazareth Home on feast days and sent out emails to remind staff and students about holy days of obligation. (“When you have Mass on Ash Wednesday,” she once wrote to me while she was convalescing at the Nazareth Home, “please make an announcement about the current regulations for fasting and abstinence during Lent.”) After a pair of candlesticks were stolen from the altar, she found someone off-campus to donate replacements. Like many religious sisters, she was well-organized, resourceful and attentive to the smallest details.
    Margaret spent countless hours preparing for Spalding’s bi-annual alumni Masses, hiring musicians and cantors, decorating the chapel and proofreading the programs. She usually preached at the Founders’ Day Mass and Irish Coffee Mass. Her homilies were witty and insightful as she recounted her experiences as a sister and a native of India. She always seemed to enjoy talking to the alumni, though she may have been more nervous than I realized, as she invariably introduced me as “Father Daniel McIsaac.”
    I envied Margaret’s gift for extemporaneous speaking and her ability to improvise prayers that seemed to come from a place deep within herself. She invoked a blessing on incoming students at Orientation, and she was regularly asked to deliver the invocation at Spalding’s faculty assemblies. She readily obliged and seemed to enjoy leading others in prayer, though I think she was a little miffed when one dean delicately asked her not to pray for more than sixty seconds.
    Margaret and I usually co-presided at the school’s baccalaureate services, for which she recruited Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist students to read prayers and sacred passages from their respective holy books. Although she had a deep respect for the Church’s liturgical traditions, she was willing to improvise in order to make the prayers more gender-inclusive. She had little patience with the syntactical wilderness of the New Missal, and she encouraged me to untangle the prayers so that they more closely resembled plain English.
    Occasionally her liturgical liberties got us into trouble. One morning a few newcomers showed up for Mass in the chapel. As we gathered around the altar for the Liturgy of the Eucharist, Margaret announced that everyone was welcome to receive Communion. A visiting undergraduate reported this to her parents, who promptly informed the archbishop; and the chancellor soon ordered me to confine Communion to worshipers who were certifiably Roman Catholic.
    Margaret expressed her piety through acts of compassion rather than adherence to rules. She reached out to others with a comforting word or gesture in moments of trouble or tragedy. She once said to me, “People tell me they don’t know what to give up for Lent. I tell them, ‘Instead of giving something up, do something positive for others.’”
    Her pastoral approach to worship was nourished by her commitment to the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, as well as her weekly worship at Saint William Parish, one of the most progressive parishes in Louisville, where she served on the worship committee and occasionally preached at the Sunday Masses. She once asked Archbishop Kelly for permission to organize a liturgical dance as part of the parish liturgy. The archbishop replied, “Don’t ask me that. If you ask me, I’ll have to say no. Just go ahead and do it!”
    Margaret grew up within a deeply religious Catholic family. One brother was a bishop who presided over a diocese in India. Every year, the family gathered at the father’s homestead for a reunion. The bishop always presided at a Saturday evening Mass and concluded the rites by telling the family: “Now, this will count as your Sunday obligation.” Margaret’s father always retorted, “Joey, you may be a bishop, but I know my catechism; and it’s a sin not to go to Mass on Sunday.”
    Margaret had a dynamic and engaging personality. She was talkative but not domineering, chattering away in a rapid-fire, enthusiastic manner that instinctively made me interested in whatever she had to say. She was indiscriminately friendly and curious about everyone she encountered. Whenever we ate lunch at a restaurant off-campus, she insisted on introducing us to the receptionist and every waiter in sight. As we left the Brown Hotel one afternoon, she said to me: “I hope I didn’t embarrass you. I’m an extrovert.”
    Margaret’s Indian heritage and her work in other countries invested her with a firsthand experience of injustice and discrimination. She told me that in the late 1960s, she traveled from New York to India with a few other Indian sisters. They sailed on a freighter that traveled around the southern tip of Africa. There were no other passengers on the boat, so the sisters took all of their meals at the captain’s table. When the ship docked in Cape Town, the captain invited them to go ashore with him to visit the city. They went to a downtown restaurant, where the doorman said to the captain: “You may come in.” Then he turned to the sisters and said, “You ladies may not.” They left and walked to another restaurant, located on the upper floor of a tall building. A sign beside the elevator said that it was for whites only, and all others were required to use the stairs. They soon discovered that everything in town was segregated along racial lines, so they returned to the ship and dined in private.
    When Margaret told her father that she planned to join the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, he urged her to choose another religious community. He feared that, as the only person of color, she would be treated as a servant by the white sisters. Margaret told me that she never encountered racial prejudice among the sisters, though some religious communities with Belgian and other European members did discriminate against Indian sisters.
    Her cosmopolitan background and her firsthand encounters with racial and gender prejudice made her sensitive to the problems and challenges of international students who studied in the United States. She told me about the growing apprehension of Spalding’s foreign students as they watched news accounts of the resurgent nativism in this country in the Age of Trump. Margaret helped them to renew their visas and to navigate the wilderness of legal regulations that threatened them with expulsion. She also listened with sympathy when they recounted their experiences of discrimination in Louisville and elsewhere in the United States, and she let them know that they were talking to a kindred soul.
    She was so dynamic and compassionate, so indiscriminately curious and irrepressible that I assumed she would go on forever. One day several years ago a fall in her apartment sent her to the hospital with several broken bones. Her convalescence lasted for months, but she responded to her injuries with characteristic fortitude and grace. When I visited her at Nazareth Home, she was always in good spirits and as chatty as ever. Her decision to retire marked the end of an era, as she was the last Sister of Charity of Nazareth working in ministry at Spalding. At the age of eighty-two, she returned to her community in Nazareth, Kentucky and vanished into the world from which she came.

    Reply
  2. Ann Palatty

    Margaret, thank you for your sixty years of committed life as an SCN. Now enjoy your eternal bliss.

    Reply
  3. Maggie Vargas

    Sr. Margaret was such a bright and jolly person that brought light to any gloomy room, with all her smart remarks to make you feel comfortable. She was always happy to see you, no matter who you were! Even if she had met you before, she would make a special effort to make you feel remembered and like she never forgot who you were! That will be surely missed whenever you were around.
    Sr. Margaret, may your soul now rest in eternal peace and rise in glory!!! Continue to watch over your sisters and loved ones here on earth!

    Reply
  4. Joel Urumpil

    Margaret you and your hilarious laughter are etched in our memory! Your commitment was without compromise!

    Reply
  5. Ellen Sprigg

    I’ll never forget her spunk and smile. She always made a point to stop and ask me about the volunteer trips and was so encouraging and kind. Rest in Peace Sr. Margaret and thank you for touching so many lives. ❤️

    Reply
  6. rita puthenkalam

    I cherish the hilarious memories of our novitiate days. May you enjoy eternal bliss with our God!

    Reply
  7. Bro. Ignatius Perkins, OP, PhD, RN, SCNA

    I had the privilege of working with Sr. Margaret at Spalding University when I served as Chair of the Department of Nursing. Without question she was an exemplary icon of Mother Catherine Spalding. May she now embrace Mother Catherine and all the SCN’s in the presence of Jesus..

    Reply
  8. Amrita Manjaly SCN

    We love you Margaret and we miss you. May you enjoy eternal bliss as you join your heavenly abode.

    Reply

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