Sister Rosa Bortolin
9/10/1923 – 1/12/2022
Rosa’s name in the Congregation was Sr Candelaria, which puts us in mind of a lamp, a lit candle, a candelabra, a light, and reminds us of the feast of Candlemas, on 2nd February. Her name was chosen in honour of the patroness of the parish of Our Lady of the Candles, at Indiatuba in the São Paulo region, where she was born. This title of Mary has its origin in the feast of Jesus’ presentation in the temple, forty days after his birth. Simeon saw Jesus as “the light which enlightens the gentiles”, and church tradition pictured Mary as the light bearer, like a lamp which gives the light which shines over the world.
The name “Candelaria” explains the many and varied activities of Sr. Rosa in the Congregation.
Born in Italy, Rosa belonged to a large family which came from the Veneto and established itself in São Paulo at the beginning of the last century. Loving Our Lady as she did, Sr. Rosa joined the Congregation as a postulant in 1949 and began her noviciate in 1951 in São Paulo. She was profoundly musical and had a beautiful voice. She studied elementary violin and basic music theory. She sang in the choir of the Church of the Consolation in São Paulo and contributed in various other ways.
Over the years she lived in various communities in São Paulo, and from 2009 she remained in the Sedes Community, helping the sisters and staff. One of Sr. Rosa’s activities which she began in 1970 was to join a group living very simply to care for and educate poor and abandoned children. The sisters lived with the children in basic little houses and became virtual mothers to them. Sr. Camila and Sr. Natalina (both deceased) worked with her. Subsequently she volunteered to help in the nursery run by the sisters of St. Vincent de Paul and stayed for several years, at the same time sewing for the fashion house “Prelude” in São Paulo. She was a woman of many talents and happy to forsake one to undertake another.
At 99, the age at which she died, she was still helping with the washing up in the Sedes community, always welcoming the frequent visitors with a friendly smile. She spent hours, too, in the chapel saying the rosary. She gradually lost her hearing and towards the end of her life became completely deaf. That hampered her in her work, especially in music and singing. But she never lost the smile she had for everyone she met.
Unexpectedly she fell in the Community Room and broke her femur. After her operation she went to S.P. Fourier where she died.
We are grateful for her simple but full life in the congregation. In her own way she carried the light of Christ and, like Mary, was transformed into a small candle spreading the light of love.