Sister Rosemarie Pohlman

Sister Rosemarie Pohlman

Sister Rosemarie Pohlman, SNDdeN

July 14, 1952 – November 21, 2019

“…Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.” (Luke 11:28)

Rosemarie Pohlman was raised with her older sister and three younger brothers in Covington, Kentucky. With her siblings, she attended St. Augustine Parish School staffed by the Sisters of Notre Dame of Coesfeld. At an early age Rosemarie experienced significant hearing loss and she began learning ways to interact with the world around her that would enable her to share her gifts in service to others. Rosemarie graduated from St. Augustine and then studied for a year at St. Joseph Heights, also with the Sisters of Notre Dame, before enrolling at Notre Dame Academy where she completed her secondary education. She continued her education at Thomas More College, working part-time as a waitress and cashier to help pay the tuition.~

As Rosemarie neared the completion of her degree and started looking at the future, she decided to follow God’s call to religious life. She had been attracted to the spirituality and work of St. Julie Billiart, the spiritual foundress of the Sisters of Notre Dame of Coesfeld, from an early age. Rosemarie was accepted into their community in 1974 and dreamed of completing her student teaching and beginning a ministry in the classroom. Because of her hearing impairment and slight speech impediment, the Sisters were not sure Rosemarie was suited for the classroom. Therefore her dream was put on hold. Rosemarie ministered in the sewing room, taking care of housekeeping duties and through various other charges given to her on behalf of the community for close to 20 years. But she continued to feel called to teach. In 1993, she received permission to teach hearing impaired children part-time. Rosemarie loved the work. At the end of the year, the program she was a part of was moved to a different school and she moved with it, accepting a full-time position.~

Her community was still resistant to the idea of her teaching full-time. Rosemarie continued to feel called to religious life, and to teaching. She felt a need for greater acceptance of both her strengths and limitations by the community, so she investigated transferring to another community that lived the spirituality of St. Julie Billiart: the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. It was not a smooth process. Rosemarie ended up leaving her first community and taking time to listen deeply to whether or not God was calling her to continue living vowed religious life. She continued teaching full-time, became a stronger advocate for herself, and deepened relationships in her parish and broader community. But Rosemarie missed religious life. In 2001, she entered the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. Rosemarie would later express the welcome and acceptance - of both her strengths and limitations - she experienced from the Sisters: “This acceptance frees me and enables me to live more fully my calling. I feel very much at home in the Ohio Unit.”

For the next 12 years Rosemarie continued teaching full-time. In 2005, it was stated that she was the only hearing impaired teacher certified in hearing impairment and specific learning disabilities for Campbell County Schools.~ Rosemarie diligently attended to the 30 hours of professional development required each year to maintain her certification, including attending classes at Cincinnati State and Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. She continually sharpened her skills at American Sign Language to help the students who depended on her for individual instruction through signing. Is it any wonder Rosemarie felt she was living St. Julie’s value on focusing on each individual student? She approached her teaching with enthusiasm, creativity and a gentle touch. Her supervisors noted Rosemarie’s conscientious attention to her students and coworkers, and her easy collaboration with classroom teachers. Rosemarie also felt she was living St. Julie’s preference for the poor and most abandoned as nearby parochial schools could not afford to offer services for the hearing impaired. She wrote, “I see my ministry ...in a public school as being able to serve the children who cannot attend parochial school in the Diocese of Covington. I am providing services to the students who have siblings attending the parochial schools. A couple of parents have commented to me that having me as a teacher ‘is the closest they can come to providing a Catholic education for their child.’” Rosemarie’s work with the deaf community went beyond her work in schools. She participated in a Ministry Formation program for Catholic Deaf Adults in Chicago, participated in ministry at Mother of God Church in Covington, Kentucky and was part of the American Catholic Delegation to the International Deaf Catholic Community Papal Audience and Pilgrimage to Italy in 2008.~

As Rosemarie’s hearing impairment grew progressively worse she made the decision to retire from teaching and accept a new challenge: Technology Coordinator for the Ohio Unit. In that role she worked with individual Sisters to solve connectivity issues. She also improved equipment for connecting the east and west parts of the Ohio Unit for meetings, for input and sometimes simply for catching up with each other. Rosemarie was also called on to solve technological issues for the staff, to purchase and set up new computers, and a myriad of other technology related tasks. She continually researched better ways to connect Sisters far and near, trying to stay ahead of innovations, dealing with inevitable learning curves herself so she could teach others to navigate them. ~

Community for Rosemarie was more about relationships than a particular place she lived. For her, community was about each person sharing her gifts to support the other members, growing in boundedness and creating a supportive environment for each other’s ministries. She valued spending quality time with her Sisters and with friends and coworkers outside of community. Rosemarie was an excellent listener who valued honest communication, dialogue, patience and growing understanding of each other in all of her relationships. She helped wherever and whenever she could: from cooking and baking, to sewing, to gardening, to serving as Eucharistic Minister, to using her superb spatial relationship sense to help a Sister arrange her room, to helping Sisters figure out “what happened to that file.” Rosemarie served on the Ohio Unit Assembly and on various committees and task forces. She treasured memories of her participation in the Final Vow Program at Namur with other Sisters from around the world.~

Family was important to Rosemarie. She held each member in her heart and in her prayers. Rosemarie was grateful for how her family helped her become the authentic person we all experienced. She treasured the time she had with each of them throughout the years, but especially in the last couple of months of her life. The Coesfeld Sisters of Notre Dame also remained important to Rosemarie. When she realized how close death was, Rosemarie wrote to the Sisters thanking them for all they had been to her. It was with quiet joy she read the notes and cards that were sent to her in return.
 
Rosemarie had a deep sense of the importance of words in relationships, beginning with her relationship with God. She knew that at its heart, obedience is first and foremost deep listening to God’s word in the world, in relationships, and in the quiet center of her heart. It was Rosemarie’s deep listening that enabled her to give so freely of herself to those around her. It was her deep listening that allowed Christ’s love to flow through her to each person she met. It was her deep listening that filled her heart with gratitude to her family who nurtured her call from her earliest years, to the Sisters of Notre Dame of Coesfeld who introduced her to St. Julie and religious life, to the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur who encouraged her to explore using her gifts in new and challenging ways. 

Her Sisters, co-workers, family and friends accompanied Rosemarie as she journeyed her final days, but we were surprised when the end came. The Alleluia verse for the day might have been a slogan for Rosemarie’s life, and a message to us:  “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” (Psalm 95:8) St. Julie’s word of the day might have been Rosemarie’s words to each of us: “I am putting you all in the Heart of our good Jesus and in that of his Blessed Mother, who is our Mother too.” (Letter 171) As we gather to celebrate Rosemarie’s life, it is our turn to listen deeply and let our hearts fill with gratitude as we thank our good God for this faithful daughter of St. Julie. We thank God for all the ways she made God’s goodness known to us. We hear these words from Colossians as Rosemarie’s prayer for each of us:

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16)

Bio Data

  • Born July 14, 1952 at Covington, Kentucky
  • Parents: John Pohlman, Jr. (born in Covington, Kentucky) and Georgia Elinor Ayres (born in Hartwell, Georgia)
  • Siblings: Gloria Jean Pohlman Kramer, Donald Mark Pohlman, John Eric Pohlman, Daniel Michael Pohlman
  • Baptized August 3, 1952 at St. Augustine Church, Covington, Kentucky
  • Confirmed Feb. 11, 1963 at St. Augustine Church, Covington, Kentucky
  • Entered the Sisters of Notre Dame, Covington, Kentucky in 1974 
  • Entered the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in Cincinnati on March 9, 2001
  • First Profession: September 14, 2002 at Mt. Notre Dame, Reading, Ohio
  • Final Profession: October 29, 2005 at Mt. Notre Dame, Reading, Ohio

Education:

  • Bachelor in Elected Studies from Thomas More College, Covington, Kentucky, 1978
  • Master of Arts in Deaf Education from Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond, Kentucky, 1992
  • Rank 1Certificate in Special Education, Northern Kentucky University, Highland Heights, Kentucky, 1998

Assignments Included:

  • 1974-1994 Housekeeping, Sewing Room for Sisters of Notre Dame of Covington
  • 1993-1994 Part-time Teacher of Hearing Impaired, Erlanger/Elsmere, Kentucky Schools
  • 1994-2007 Special Education Teacher, Campbell Ridge Elementary, Alexandria, Kentucky
  • 2007-2013 Special Education Teacher, Campbell County Middle School, Campbell County, Kentucky
  • 2013-2017: Technology Coordinator, Ohio Province, Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, Reading, Ohio
  • 2017-2019: Technology Advocate, Mt. Notre Dame, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • September – November, 2019: Ministry of Prayer, Mt. Notre Dame Health Center, Cincinnati, Ohio

Died at Mt. Notre Dame Health Center, Cincinnati, Ohio on November 21, 2019

Sr. Kim Dalgarn SNDdeN
November 15, 2019