Hospital Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis

Sister Rose Duchesne Noelke, O.S.F.

✝ Saturday, May 30th 2020


“Hardly had I left them when I found him whom my soul loves.”

(Song of Songs 3:4)

Sister Rose Duchesne Noelke’s beloved came to her very quietly on Saturday, May 30, 2020 at 10:10 A.M. and took her to celebrate the Church’s Birthday, the Feast of Pentecost, in heaven.  Sister surprised us all the way she left with her beloved for eternity.

Sister Rose Duchesne, the former Leona Mary Noelke, was born in Washington, MO, April 22, 1920, the daughter of Henry and Rose Barbara Gerritson Noelke.  She entered the Congregation on September 23, 1949 and professed her religious vows on June 13, 1952.

Sister was a 1958 graduate of St. John’s Hospital School of Nursing.  She served the community as a nurse at St. Mary’s Hospital Medical Center, Green Bay and as Nursing Service Director at St. Mary’s Hospital, Decatur from 1961-1972.  From 1972-1976 she was a Core Member of the House of Prayer in Henry, IL.  She served as a Pastoral Care Associate at St. Mary’s Hospital Medical Center, Green Bay from 1976-1982 and at St. Mary’s Hospital, Decatur from 1986-1989.  She was the Novitiate Office Secretary for three years and held various roles at St. Mary’s Hospital, Decatur, until she retired to the Motherhouse in 2002 where she continued with several volunteer activities.

Sister Rose Duchesne was deeply in love for long eight years and was engaged to be married; however, she listened to her heart and cancelled the wedding just four weeks before it was scheduled.  That is when she found the true love of her life, Jesus, and became his bride for the rest of her life.  The depth of her “in love” experience enabled Sister Rose Duchesne to serve others with a twinkle in her eyes and with the heart and mind of Jesus.  Besides all the positions and ministries, she had, Sister Rose Duchesne always found time and energy to share her special gift as a seamstress with many Sisters.  Everyday Sister Rose Duchesne had a special ritual when she received Holy Communion, she would gaze at her Beloved before consuming the host.

Laura Brown-Lenn shared that after graduating from Barnes Hospital School of Nursing in St. Louis, I worked at Jarman Hospital in Tuscola for three years then returned to the Decatur area and interviewed at both hospitals.  The nurse manager at Decatur Memorial was very nice and told me that their mission was to give the best care possible to all their patients.  The position she offered seemed to fit my skills and I left feeling ok about working there.  Then I interviewed with Sr. Rose Duchesne at St. Mary’s.  She was warm and welcoming, soft spoken and wise and I felt at ease with her.  When she talked about St. Mary’s philosophy of nursing, she said that a nurse should see the face of Jesus in every patient.  Our goal should be to heal as Jesus healed.  Sr. Rose’s words made me see nursing as so much bigger than just giving good care.  Our ministry was to heal as Jesus healed.  I accepted her job offer. 

In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by six brothers, Theodore, Harry, Anthony, Leonard, Maurice, and Cyril Noelke and one sister, Rosemary Sowinski.

She is survived by one brother, Alfred (Doris) Noelke, of Washington, MO, a sister-in-law, Teresa Noelke, of Hermann, MO, several nieces and nephews, several great nieces and great nephews. We offer Sister Rose Duchesne’s family and friends our sincere condolences and the prayerful support of the Christian community.   

Private burial services, including the Mass of Christian Burial, will be held on Wednesday, June 3, 2020.  Burial will follow in Crucifixion Hill Cemetery. A memorial Mass will be celebrated at a later date. 

May she now enjoy her beloved face-to-face!