Sr. Mary Norma Rocklage
July 18, 1933 – June 22, 2020
S. Norma Rocklage, age 86 of the Sisters of St. Francis in Oldenburg, IN died Monday, June 22, 2020 in Indianapolis. Born Mary Ann on July 18, 1933 in St. Louis, MO, she is the second oldest of eight children born to Henry and Catherine (nee: Lohmann) Rocklage. Mary Ann grew up with her close-knit family in St. Louis, attending Holy Cross School where she first became acquainted with the Franciscan Sisters, and by the eighth grade, she began thinking about becoming a Sister. She attended high school at the Immaculate Conception Academy in Oldenburg, and although quite shy and homesick, she soon made friends and enjoyed her participation in student council and school publications. It was in witnessing the Sisters’ joy in their dedicated service that drew Mary Ann to the Community, and she professed her final vows on August 12, 1957 as S. Norma. S. Norma continued her education at Marian College, earning a B.A. and at St. Louis University earning an M.A. and her Ph.D. She began teaching primary grades at St. Mary School in North Vernon, IN in 1953, followed by middle school students at St. Francis of Assisi School in Portage des Sioux, MO before dedicating much of her life to students at Marian College, now University, beginning in 1965. Her positions at Marian include: 1965-1974 Assistant Professor, Classical Languages 1970-1974 Dean for Academic Affairs 1974-1982 Returned to the Oldenburg Motherhouse to serve as Councilor 1974-1982 Member of the Marian College Board of Trustees 1989-2004 Director/Vice President for Mission Effectiveness 2005-2019 Executive Director for Formation & Outreach
When S. Norma returned to Marian in 1989, she was approached by five diocesan superintendents of Indiana to initiate a program for beginning principals on developing lay spirituality since almost all principals were lay men and women with very few religious. With a grant from the Lilly Endowment, S. Norma helped to develop an 18-month program for beginning principals, and eventually for veteran principals and parish teams, and directed it from 1989-2019 as the Indiana Catholic Principals Institute.
A partial listing of S. Norma’s awards include:
• 1996 Marian College Distinguished Alumna Award • 2005 Brebeuf Preparatory School High School – Honorary Diploma • 2008 Marian College Athletic Hall of Fame • 2014 Archdiocesan Council for Educational Excellence • 2015 Marian College Intercultural Person of the Year • 2015 Archdiocesan Spirit of Service Award • 2016 Bertha Torres Hispanic Award • 2016 Marian College Franciscan Values Award • 2016 Indiana Council for Latino Affairs Distinguished Service Award • 2017 Center for Interfaith Cooperation’s Interfaith Ambassador of the Year • 2017 Franciscan Federation’s Intercultural Award • 2018 Oldenburg Academy’s Distinguished Alumna Award
In reflecting upon her years at Marian, S. Norma commented, “I learned a great deal about global affairs, was afforded many opportunities for being involved in interfaith and intercultural affairs, was able to establish at Marian a Latino/Hispanic Advisory Board composed of Marian faculty and staff and Indianapolis community members to advocate for Hispanic students to receive a higher education degree and learn of their rights, though undocumented, and also established a Service Learning Board to foster efforts in combining service learning with the academic goals and not merely volunteer work. The faculty, staff and students challenged me so often by their energy, vision and willingness to have the COURAGE TO VENTURE, so much like our Mother Theresa Hackelmeier … without knowing they were doing so. I had loved teaching elementary school children who still have a special place in my heart and I actually cried when I realized I was being prepared for college teaching, for I thought I would NEVER like that ministry! How wrong I was! I am very grateful for the 40+ years of being involved with the Marian Community for I was graced with many blessings.” When asked to reflect upon her life, S. Norma shared, “As our Community becomes older, more poor, more vulnerable, fewer in number and perhaps less sure of the future, I find my love for and hope in the Community growing. As we move ahead into the uncertain future, I sense we are moving together more dependent on the Lord and more able to share our journey and lives with others. My favorite line in our mutual and personal ministry and mission is, ‘Where there is one, there is the Community, there is the church, there is Jesus.’”
Survivors include S. Norma’s brothers Joseph Rocklage of St. Louis, MO and Aloysius Rocklage of Rosemount, MN; sisters S. Mary Roch, RSM of St. Louis, MO and Dee Schantz of Gresham, OR and many nieces, nephews and friends. She was preceded in death by her parents, Henry and Catherine (nee: Lohmann) Rocklage, brothers Norbert and Raymond and her sister Clara La Rose.
Visitation for Sr. Norma will be Friday, June 26, from 2:00-8:00 p.m. at Marian University Arena and Convocation Center, 3200 Cold Spring Road, Indianapolis. Enter through the Peyton Manning Hall of Champions. Please bring your own mask and recognize social distancing.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Sisters of St. Francis, PO Box 100, Oldenburg, IN, 47036 (www.OldenburgFranciscans.org), or to the Sister Norma Rocklage, OSF Endowed Diversity Scholarship at Marian University.
Friday, June 26, 2020
Sr. Mary Norma Rocklage
June 25, 2020
May passing time, caring friends and loving memories, work gently through the coming days to help comfort her family.
June 24, 2020
Sister Norma was our Spiritual Director for over twenty years. Her authenticity, her ability to go where we were going spiritually no matter much it varied from her devotion to the Franciscan Order and the Catholic Church was an incredibly, beautiful ongoing gift to both of us. We are so grateful for our experience with her and for all of her gifts to all of the causes that she championed.
Paul and Nicci George
June 24, 2020
Sr. Norma was a special gift from God. She and I lived in community together when she was Dean at Marian and at St. Barts in Cincinnati when she worked at the Franciscan Friary. I often would make a sign that read NO when she was on the upstairs phone scheduling a meeting,etc. Norma gave her service unconditionally...
She and I were avid rooters for St. Louis Cardinals since she and I were born and raised in Baden, a small German town in St. Louis.
We always knew that most of the sisters were Cincinnati Red fans So she and I would make banners for the game to promote our St. Louis spirit. Her spirit of enthusiasm for life, her sense of humor and dedicated service to others will always be remembered! Be at peace my friend!