CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Generous even in death

MARYKNOLL (SE): Maryknoll Sister Rose Duchesne Debrecht died peacefully on February 22 at the Maryknoll Sisters Home Care in Maryknoll, New York, the United States of America. She was 91 years old and had been a Maryknoll Sister for 73 years.

Armella Elizabeth Debrecht, better known to her students and friends by her religious name, Sister Rose Duchesne, was born on 20 November 1922 to Aloys and Leona Schneider Debrecht in St. Peters, Missouri.

Her parents, brother, Glennon Debrecht, and sister, Mildred Ochs, have all predeceased her. 

However, she is survived by another sister, Virginia Debrecht, of St. Charles in Missouri, as well as a niece and two nephews.

Armella Debrecht attended St. Peter’s High School in St. Charles, Missouri, graduating in 1940. She entered the Maryknoll Sisters at their centre in Maryknoll from St. Peter’s parish on 8 December 1940.

Her first profession was made at the Maryknoll Sisters Motherhouse in Maryknoll on 30 June 1943 and her final profession took place on the same day in 1946, also at the Motherhouse.

She graduated with a master’s in geography from St. Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri, and the Maryknoll Teachers College in Maryknoll with a bachelor’s degree in education.

She spent her entire missionary life in Hong Kong, where she was a teacher and principal from 1946 to 2006.

Sister Rose Duchesne Debrecht studied Cantonese in Hong Kong and Macau, as well as Mandarin at St. Louis University between 1978 and 1979.

She served at the Maryknoll Convent School in Kowloon Tong, first as a teacher in forms IV and V from 1952 to 1958 and then as principal of the Secondary Section from 1965 to 1972, supervising 37 teachers and approximately 900 students.

Later, from 1983 to 1985, she also served as the supervisor of Maryknoll Convent School’s Primary Section.

She taught at the Maryknoll Sisters School at Blue Pool Road, Hong Kong, from 1958 to 1962. Then from 1973 to 1978, when Kit Sam Middle School in Kwun Tong was badly in need of a principal, she combined the roles of both principal and teacher.

From 1979 to 1985, Sister Rose Duchesne Debrecht was the matron at the Adam Schall Residence, a student hostel at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Following three years working at the Maryknoll Sisters Centre in the Promotion and Mission Education office from 1985 to 1989, she returned to Hong Kong and was a member of the Regional Service Team Administration from 1989 to 1992, which she combined with work in communications for the Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN) from 1989 to 1993, then tutoring English in Kwun Tong and Kowloon Tong from 1993 to 2012.

A Vespers service was held for Sister Rose Duchesne Debrecht on Monday, 3 March 2014, at 4.15pm in the Annunciation Chapel at the Maryknoll Sisters Centre, Ossining, New York, followed by a Memorial Mass at 11.00am on Tuesday, 4 March 2014.

She bequeathed her body to science in the hope that others may benefit from her life even in death.


May she rest in peace.

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