Sister Roseanne Murphy

As a daughter of a hotel manager, Margaret Rose Murphy's early years included living in a series of hotel suites, and though she may have longed for a house with a lawn, her childhood was a busy and happy one with dancing, theatre, swimming and reading.

By eighth grade Roseanne was attending Notre Dame High School, Belmont, in California. Her four years there provided a solid academic foundation for future studies that included St. Joseph’s School of Nursing, Stanford University and Notre Dame University, Indiana. But it was a decision made in her senior year of nursing school that changed the course of her life. As graduation neared and weddings and engagements of other students were announced, Roseanne considered her own future and sought help from St. Joseph. Two novenas later, she had her answer and her call!

She entered the convent, and became Sister Roseanne. She went on to teach biology, general science, religion and English at her alma mater, NDHS, Belmont. Later she found her “true teaching home” at the College of Notre Dame (now Notre Dame de Namur University).

Sister Roseanne enjoyed teaching college students and serving as chair for the Behavioral Science Department for 37 years! She combined her classroom teaching with experiences in the community that included field trips to San Quentin Prison and Agnews State Mental Hospital. Twice she won a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship and she was the first woman to teach at St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park, Calif.

She has also had a fair share of adventures outside the classroom: “I was asked to design, find faculty and accompany 32 students to Rome for the spring semester of 1970.  I have often said that it was either the bravest thing I have ever done or the dumbest…but it was probably one of the richest experiences the students ever had.”

In 1999, given the opportunity to reconnect with alumni, Sister  Roseanne accepted the request to become the Director of Alumni Relations at the University. Then she became the Executive Director of Planned Giving and took great pleasure in encouraging support for the school.

In 2012, a gala was given in honor of Sister Roseanne's 50 years at NDNU and an endowed scholarship set up in her name.

Even if you don’t know Sister from her many years at NDNU, you may recognize her name as the author of “Julie Billiart, Woman of Courage” and “Martyr of the Amazon: The Life of Sister Dorothy Stang.” Sister Roseanne found visiting Brazil and standing on the spot where Dorothy was murdered a profoundly moving experience.

Sister Roseanne is now retired and living in community with other Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur at the Province Center in Belmont, Calif.

As she celebrated 60 years as a Sister of Notre Dame Sister Roseanne shared, “People always think you give up a lot becoming a Sister; they forgot how much you are given. I am very grateful for it all and feel so blessed.”


  1. I was so honored to be at CND during the time that Sr. Roseanne was in residence! I remember her well, her kindness,, her gentle and encouraging manner, and I congratulate her 60 years of dedication to service as a Sister of Notre Dame! Lovingly, and Gratefully!

  2. Dear Sr. Roseanne: I congratulate you on your 60 years! It has been a joy to attend retreats with you, and my association with you over the years has helped keep the wonderful memories of my years at NDHS alive.

    Thank you for all you do. Roseanne, you are truly an inspiration. Wish I could celebrate with you. Will keep you in my prayers. Love, Marilyn

  3. Congratulations, Sister
    Today is our 55th Wedding Anniversary and we are also very thankful for all of the blessings which we have received. I thank my parents every day for allowing me to go to Notre Dame High School and ND College. God is good!
    Also, Happy Birthday!!!!!

    Love, Linda

  4. Happy 60th Jubilee, Roseanne!!! What a great day! Wish I could be there in Belmont to celebrate with you! Hope you celebrate the coming year in style….not forgetting the fun of watercolor!
    Much love,

  5. Thank you for your many years of hard work and enduring witness for our Lord. I have fond memories of you when you were the department head of Behavioral Science. You are and continue to be for me an inspiration. In Christ's love, deirdre

  6. Hello Sister Roseanne — There is no way in the world you would remember me, but you left quite an impression on my life when I was a Sociology student of yours at St. Patrick’s Seminary, circa 1968-1969. Your influence helped shape me into a lifelong Civil Rights activist, newspaper columnist, and very happy and successful parent of two amazing sons. Of all the dark and somber professors and priests we had to experience for eight years in the seminary, you came through as a bright, humorous, very humane light. I thank you for that and wish you all the best. God bless you always …… Peter Anderson

  7. Prayers for you dearest Sr. Roseanne Murphy! You helped to form me spiritually during my studies at NDNU 2000-2004. Your devotion to praying the Most Holy Rosary for me daily helped bring me to where I am today. I am eternally grateful and hope to visit with you in person God willing, soon! Hugs and please remember a special intention in your prayers!

  8. Sr. Roseanne,
    As a child I was able to visit the Notre Dame campus regularly. My great-aunt Sr. Rosemarie Julie Gavin spent over 50 years on campus. Her love and dedication to the School allowed me to be introduced to you and many of the other Sisters. I always remember your warm smile and big heart. You Sister were one of my favorite reasons to come visit my Aunt. You always seemed interested in whatever my sister Jennifer and I were doing. Your true love of people, young and old, came through each and every time you would talk to you. I also cannot thank you enough for the love you gave my Aunt during her final years to days on this earth. There is not enough space to tell you how much you mean to me as you have stamped your impression always on my heart. I remember vividly when you, Sr. Rosemarie and Sr. Catharine Julie came to my First Communion. I remember how "cool" even at 7 years of age I thought you were because you and Sr. Catharine Julie played basketball with me. We have pictures! Well now at almost 49 I still think your the coolest. All my love Sr. Roseanne. God bless you and Notre Dame de Namur. Jeff Adams

  9. My dear sister, I would never have graduated from high school or college without your caring help. Thank you.

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