Mary Basil Roeser, SSND

Sister Mary Basil Roeser, SSND shares a humorous moment with Archbishop William E. Cousins as they discuss business together.
Sister Mary Basil Roeser, SSND, shares a humorous moment with
Archbishop William E. Cousins as they discuss business together.

Clara Roeser was born in Escanaba, Michigan January 16, 1902. She died December 9, 1992, in Milwaukee. After graduating from St. Joseph high school in Escanaba, she attended Marquette Normal School and taught for three years in schools at Fayette and Nahma, Michigan. However, she remembered that a mathematics professor at Normal had said, “You would make a good accountant.” So she decided “I want to become a certified public accountant and I want to travel.” She went to the Anthony Wayne Institute at Fort Wayne, Indiana to study business, specializing in accounting. “I was going to be a businesswoman, not a stenographer, an accountant, not a bookkeeper,” she said.

She took a position at the Escanaba National Bank but felt she had a vocation to the religious life. Eventually, she entered the School Sisters of Notre Dame in Milwaukee. She wrote: “I have done many things in the convent, and religious life has held many surprises. I have found unusual things in unexpected places, but the most amusingly ironic has been the complete fulfillment of my early plans now that fulfillment does not matter. As Procurator of the Community, accounting is my business, and I never step on a train or a boat without remembering my dreams of travel. And I never travel without luxuriating in the thought that at the end of the journey I will be home.”

She was a high school teacher and principal. Her subjects were Latin, English, and French. In 1947 she was elected assistant in the North American Commissariat and served in that capacity until 1959. In 1959 she was a councilor in the Mequon Provincialate, where she served until 1971. She was then appointed provincial treasurer. Most of her years in administration included responsibility for the financial affairs of the community. Her financial acuity made it possible to work well with bankers, investors, architects, and businessmen—anyone dealing with finances.

Education was always important to her, and she made sure every Sister would work for her degree. She guided Sisters into graduate studies. She played an active role in the Sister Formation Conference, serving on the national board during the first years of the Movement.

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