“Sister Rosemarie Burian lived life fully and brilliantly with open heartedness and depth of soul. In her dying with quiet dignity on September 22, 2019, she expressed her complete surrender to God.”




As a young woman her life as a vowed Franciscan Sister was rather ordinary. She served as an elementary school teacher and as a Montessori teacher. She worked in Catholic parishes as Director of religious education and as a Pastoral Associate. Later she served as a Hospital Chaplain. Her life took a radical turn when prayerful discernment led to taking action to meet the needs of the poor. With deep faith and boldness in 1982 she founded the Bethlehem Food Center in Carol Stream, IL, that grew beyond her imagining into the Northern Illinois Food Bank.

Always a woman with keen interest in learning, Rosemarie became an accomplished scholar with a B.A. in English, a M.A. in Religious Education and a Doctorate in Ministry. Listening to her soul’s knowing, Rosemarie shifted her focus of learning and ministry to Healing Touch Practice and Spiritual Direction. This became her life’s work.

For many years Rosemarie found a kindred spirit in Wheaton Franciscan Sister Virginia Mary Barta as they both had the heart of a mystic. In this relationship and with continuous study and meditation practice Rosemarie experienced a radical awakening into a whole new level of consciousness. She noted this shift as an enlarged awareness that sees connections, brings forth experience of Spirit, and awakens intuitive knowing.

In 2003 Rosemarie’s ongoing discernment from a place of heart compelled her to choose a formal transfer of membership from the Bartlett Franciscan Sisters to membership with the Wheaton Franciscan Sisters. Rosemarie felt that the Wheaton Franciscans fostered individual expression and creativity and she noted that “this is a great source of delight and sometimes humor.”

With the support of her Franciscan Community Rosemarie realized her desire for solitude. She created a hermitage life that allowed her freedom for inner exploration into depth of soul. She named her Wheaton home “The Hermitage.” There she delighted in contemplation, silence, and connection to beauty in nature and music. There she strengthened her capacity to live from the essence of who she was. At this time in her life she identified her ministry this way: “My calling is to assist in the evolving of consciousness of the planet. I invite people to reflect and understand who they are and why they are on the planet.”

From her home Rosemarie offered individual healing touch and spiritual direction. She also invited people to come for seminars, reading groups, and spiritual practices such as group meditation. For more than fifteen years a group of people met monthly with Rosemarie for meditation and reflective reading. The first book they read aloud together was Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now. It took a long time to complete a reflective reading of this book so they named themselves the Now community. Ever the catalyst, Rosemarie encouraged them not only to meditate, read and reflect but to put their insights into practice. 

In the last few years of her life, Rosemarie suffered memory loss and chronic pain. Still she continued to be a teacher for many as her dignity, strength of soul, and quality of presence inspired those around her. She leaves us the legacy of a practical mystic showing us by her life o f contemplation and self-surrender that we too are evolving human beings seeking to realize God as the essence of who we are becoming. She would likely add, “Wake up and do something for the good for the whole planet.”

As a young girl, Rosemarie, loved ballet and dreamed of becoming a dancer. The grace of her early training became part of her. 

Sr. Rosemarie entered the congregation of the Sisters of Sr. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis in 1954. She refereed to the Sisters of St. Joseph as her “birthing” community and always wore her ring signifying that important connection. 

From her practice of daily prayer and meditation, and finally, through a dream, Sr. Rosemarie felt called to form community with others and opened a center to feed the poor. The Bethlehem Center was established in 1983 and eventually became the Northern IL Food Bank in 2000. 

Sr. Rosemarie was a certified healing touch practitioner and spiritual director. She combined these techniques in a matter that offered her clients comprehensive treatment of body, mind and spirit to promote healing and wholeness. 


(From left: Ss. Gabrielle Uhlein, Rosemarie, and Marge Zulaski)

In 2003, Sr. Rosemarie began the transfer process to the Wheaton Franciscans. Sr. Rosemarie studied with Sr. Virginia Mary Barta which formed the basis for her connection with the Wheaton Franciscans over a 30-year span. This picture was taken during Sr. Rosemarie’s final vow ceremony with the Wheaton Franciscans in 2006. She wrote, “The Wheaton Franciscans offered me the space and freedom to further develop my spiritual life within a community setting. I believe there is an attitude of respect for individuality with the community and that is both a challenge and a gift to me.”


Celebrating her 65th Jubilee of Franciscan life in May 2019, Sr. Marge Zulaski led a toast to Sr. Rosemarie as her brother, Norman, looks on.



ABC 7 News Clip


Christ is Our Hope Article




Northern Illinois Food Bank Interview


Northern Illinois Food Bank Press Release



ABC 7 Video/Article


Kane County Chronicle Article


Daily Herald Article



Visitation/Memorial Service

Thursday, September 26, 2019
Visitation from 3:00 – 8:00 PM
Memorial Service at 4:00 PM

Mass of Christian Burial

Friday, September 27, 2019
Service Began at 10:00 AM

Both Thursday & Friday services were held in the OLA Chapel see address below:

26w171 Roosevelt Rd. 
Entrance #5
Wheaton, IL 60187