Ron Rolo / The Standard-Times
Considered a living saint in New Bedford, Sister Mary Rosellen Gallogly (1930-2018) was a pioneer in developing services for the homeless, notably as director of Market Ministries Meals and Shelter, known today as Sister Rose House. An early female leader in the faith community, “Sister Rose” was one of three women in the Greater New Bedford Area Clergy and Religious Association, serving alongside Sister Marianna Sylvester and Rev. Pamela Cole.
Sister Rose House, with its rose-colored stone sign and mission of respectful shelter for the homeless, is a fitting tribute to its namesake, Sister Mary Rosellen Gallogly (1930-2018). Considered a living saint in New Bedford during her lifetime, “Sister Rose” was a pioneer in developing services for the homeless, notably as director of Market Ministries Meals and Shelter, known today as Sister Rose House.
Born and raised in Providence, RI, Mary Rosellen Gallogly was the daughter of Lawrence and Rose Mimnaugh Gallogly, who would feed soup to people living on Providence streets. In 1948, she joined the Sisters of Mercy at the age of 18. Sister Rose studied at the Catholic Teachers College at LaSalle Academy in Providence and received a master’s degree from Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. From 1951 through 1968, Sister Rose taught in Rhode Island diocesan elementary and secondary schools, beginning at St. Michael School in Providence. In 1968, she was assigned to St. James School in New Bedford as a classroom teacher, then remained in New Bedford as director of programs for immigrant children as well as a social worker in New Bedford public schools.
In 1982, in coordination with the New Bedford Council of Churches, Sister Rose became the director of Market Ministries Meals and Shelter, a non-profit food pantry and shelter on 60 Eighth Street that had merged with Catholic Social Services. For the next 32 years, Sister Rose made sure that Market Ministries provided a human response to human needs. She and her staff welcomed the hungry and the homeless with a personal touch and a persistent determination to address their complex issues. Luke Almeida, staff member at Market Ministries and Sister Rose House, recalled how Sister Rose would clean up those who arrived with lice and in need of bathing. Almeida added that Sister Rose would send thank you notes to all who gave to Market Ministries, no matter how small the donation. Former Catholic Social Services Executive Director Arlene McNamee, who worked with Sister Rose for more than 45 years, stated, “For more than 25 years she was its [Market Ministries] fearless leader, providing safe havens for people in this community who were homeless. We’ll always be grateful for her kindness and her justice and her awareness of this need – all too often back in those days – many of us were blind to.” In 2014, as her health declined, Sister Rose left Market Ministries and moved to Mount St. Rita Health Centre in Cumberland, RI.
In 2016, Market Ministries was renamed Sister Rose House and relocated to a newly renovated facility at the former St. Hedwig’s Church at 71 Division Street in New Bedford’s South End. Sister Rose House is a 25-bed shelter for homeless men that also houses a soup kitchen, community garden and job training classroom. The main shelter, designed to give men respectful privacy, has four showers, a washer and a dryer. The job training center, on the ground floor, is named the MacLean Saunders Education Center. It includes a commercial-grade kitchen that offers 100 meals daily and serves as a culinary learning lab for guests. GED classes, job coaching and other support services are also available there. Also located on the ground floor, the city’s emergency shelter, with an additional 25 beds, opens during extreme weather and handles any overflow. Sister Rose herself, in attendance at the opening of the new facility named in her honor, stated, “I’m so happy for everyone, they’ve reached a level where they are able to do a lot of what I hoped would be done. It’s a terrific facility and a lot of people have done a lot of good work on it.” Sister Rose House continues Sister Rose’s mission – to help clients gain long term sustainability while working on the current issues that lead to their homelessness.
Sister Rose was a pioneer as a female leader in the faith community. For the Sisters of Mercy, she became assistant director of novices. Later, Sister Rose was one of three women in the Greater New Bedford Area Clergy and Religious Association, serving alongside Sister Marianna Sylvester and Rev. Pamela Cole. She even was elected president of the YWCA.
Sister Rose humbly received numerous awards during her lifetime. The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth gave her an honorary doctorate. The New Bedford Chamber of Commerce named her the Community Leader of the Year. From Mattapoisett, she received the Sydney Adams Award for Outstanding Community Service. She was named Person of the Year by the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick.
Sister Rose died on April 6, 2018 at Mount St. Rita Health Centre in Cumberland, RI. Soon after her passing, New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell stated, “Her devotion to the betterment of children, immigrants, and the homeless enabled countless individuals to get their lives on track, and made her name synonymous with charity. She was an inspiration to so many of us, and she will be dearly missed.”
Ann O’Leary, Emily Bourne Research Fellow
Bonner, Michael. “‘If It Wasn’t for Her …’ Sister Rose Honored at Shelter That Bears Her Name.” SouthCoast Today, 11 Apr. 2018, http://www.southcoasttoday.com/news/20180411/if-it-wasnt-for-her–sister-rose-honored-at-shelter-that-bears-her name.
Bonner, Michael. “Sister Rose Remembered as a Pioneer, Saint in New Bedford.” SouthCoast Today, 9 Apr. 2018, http://www.southcoasttoday.com/news/20180409/sister-rose-remembered-as-pioneer-saint-in-new-bedford.
McKiernan, Kathleen. “New Sister Rose Homeless Shelter to Open Soon in New Bedford’s South End.” SouthCoast Today, 7 Feb. 2016, http://www.southcoasttoday.com/article/20160207/NEWS/160209563.
“New Bedford’s ‘Sister Rose’ Leaves Lasting Legacy of Charity.” The Anchor, 10 Apr. 2018, http://www.anchornews.org/news/breaking/sister_rose.html.
A Tour of Sister Rose House: A Shelter for Homeless Men. Ann Marie Lopes, videographer/editor, New Bedford Cable Access, 2016. YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qggLRHDgDVo.