Sister Elaine Margaret Roulet, CSJ

“If it is of God it must be like God.” were words often spoken by our sister, Elaine Roulet and today we honor her, thank her and celebrate all that has been “of God” through her passion, compassion and love of all of God’s children. A Sister of St. Joseph for 71 years, Elaine ministered as a teacher, administrator and studied counseling which I am sure touched into her deep desire to empower and nurture the lives of others, women and children most of all. Elaine’s deep spirituality drew her to God and she drew others to God.

Founder of Providence House, Elaine, with the sisters in the core communities, provided a home for women and children, filled with God’s love, respect, companionship, guidance and for some the first birthday cake they ever had, even as they turned forty years of age. Her dream to provide housing for parolees and supportive housing continues to unfold to this day.
Elaine’s ground-breaking work in the prison system enabled new mothers to be with their babies during the first critical years of life. She founded the Children’s Center in Bedford Hills to support mothers and their children and created a visitation program to help children stay connected to their mothers. Elaine stayed connected to so many women, once out of prison through the Our Journey program, nurturing their spirituality and supporting them in their new endeavors. For these and many other initiatives Elaine received numerous honorary degrees, national awards, even Wonder Woman and was inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame.

As a congregation we are so proud of these accomplishments but most of all we, her sisters and all who celebrate with us, honor Elaine for her vision, persistence and unfailing trust in God. We celebrate her deep faith, loyal friendships, her zest for life and all she held as beautiful.

In Elaine’s own words celebrating S. Rose Agnes’ 90th birthday and just before Elaine’s own 90th birthday, we can say with certainty: Elaine
“You have served the poor well and you lived the Gospel, faithfully. And you made it all look so easy.” What a wonderful legacy to pass on. Elaine, you have given us a legacy that will continue to be passed on.

This is a toast from Elaine’s 50th jubilee that she wanted us to read today. So, Elaine, here’s a toast to you.

Her favorite earth sound was laughter but she spent her life comforting those in pain.
She said yes to God 71 years ago and wasn’t able to say no since then/
She read obituaries in The NY Times every day to make sure her name was not there but definitely wants it there now.
She loved to watch movies as long as they were not about her
She didn’t know what a metro card was, or the cost of the subway, but rode thousands of buses to bring children to prison to see their mothers.
She never learned how to swim but swam every day and was a life saver to women in need.
She thought “too much of a good thing is wonderful” but dreaded the thought of receiving another award.
She couldn’t find her glasses or her car keys but found 2 Children’s Centers, Providence House, My Mother’s House, Hour Children and Our Journey.
She has been on television, received honorary doctorates, numerous awards and is in the National Women’s Hall of Fame but still gave her self stars for doing something good.
She’s the only person I know who spent over 35 years in prison and hoped her sentence would never end.
She loved and embraced the traditions of the church in her prayer and daily attendance at Mass and responded to the Gospel in the most radical of ways.
She suffered and grieved the loss of her dearest sister Jean, but always had a joke ready for those in need of laughter.
She inspired thousands with stories of the Wise Old Woman and became that woman.
Elaine’s favorite toast is taken from Mae West “Here’s to the holidays, all 365 of them.” Elaine you are a true daughter of the church, a courageous woman, a Sister of St. Joseph. So here’s to the holy days of your almost 90 years. Thank you for the life you lived and all the lives you’ve touched.

Sister Elaine obituary from the New York Times

Sister Elaine Margaret Roulet, CSJ died on August 13, 2020 in the 71st year of her religious life.

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