By Kathy Fanger
Our previous articles described Maureen and Dave’s deep faith in God’s mercy and their belief in the dignity of every person. These beliefs moved their hearts to choose a holy, resting place at Gate of Heaven Cemetery for their unborn baby and Maureen’s homeless brother. “We are all God’s children. Jesus, Our Good Shepherd, is preparing a place for each one of us in heaven.”
Today we honor the life and legacy of a woman who was grounded in her faith in life and in death. As Rose Zukas prepared her final resting place at Gate of Heaven Catholic Cemetery, her faith in the resurrection is shared with others who believe in Jesus’ promise of everlasting life.
Rose died unexpectedly in her sleep in late March at the age of 76. Her sudden death stunned her fellow parishioners at St. Martin of Tours Parish.
At her Memorial Mass, Father Sergio Ovando shared that, like Mary Our Blessed Mother, Rose was not the main person in any scene, but wherever he went, she was always there. Arriving early, Rose asked how she could help. Rose quietly got the job done.
Rose attended Sunday’s 7 a.m. Mass, followed by donuts in the hall. Known for wearing hats, she listened to people’s pains and joys.
Rose wore many other hats at St. Martin’s as a member of the Ladies Guild, the Pastoral Care Commission, and the BeFrienders bringing Communion to the homebound, offering a listening presence and connection to the Church. She was a faithful member of the Italian Catholic Federation (ICF), and a dutiful treasurer. Rose volunteered at the Blind Center and Lyons. She could be counted on to shop regularly for all the BINGO hospitality supplies, and called in emergencies when supplies were running low.
Rose was caregiver to her mother who coped with Alzheimer’s disease for many years. Her trust in God brought her strength to care with patience, kindness and love.
Rose later cared for her aging father. When he wouldn’t wear his teeth anymore, she prepared healthy soups with nutritious, pureed vegetables.
Rose was well known at Farmers Markets for gleaning produce at the end of the day. “Waste not, want not” along with her great appreciation for God’s gift of food from Mother Earth caused her to ask friends, neighbors, even strangers to pick vegetables and fruit they wouldn’t use. Rose spent hours dehydrating them, sharing her delicious rollups with many, including the Farmers Market vendors.
Friends sat around her kitchen table for hours enjoying homemade soups, sweet salsa and her ultimate weakness: fine wines and cheeses from around the world.
Rose was there when needed. She accompanied a friend who broke her arm to the hospital. She sat all day with another whose husband was in surgery. She climbed ladders to help friends pick apples.
Rose dreamed of traveling the world, but at the end of the day, the simple comfort of her own home was all she really wanted or needed.
Rose’s biggest dream came when God called her home. No long drawn out illness, no one needing to fuss over her. She died as she lived, quietly getting the job done. Father Sergio reflected, “Rose is like the sun we have in California. We get used to it. When there is no sun and it is cloudy, we miss the sun.”
Rose prays for all of us whose lives were touched by the small things she did with great love. Her legacy lives on in us, who imitate her virtues.
“All it takes is one good person to restore hope.” -Pope Francis
For more information regarding Catholic Cemeteries please visit www.catholiccemeteriesdsj.org.