Mother Rosemae Pender, the founder of the Meriden-based Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist, suffered a heart attack and died during a mass to celebrate her 75th Jubilee of vows.
The mass was at the Franciscan Sisters’ Chapel of St. John.
Mother Rosemae, 84, had renewed her vows, according to the website for the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist, and died before the end of Mass, surrounded by more than 260 friends, religious and priests.
Mother Rosemae, born Norma Joan Pender, taught in elementary schools in Iowa and Wisconsin and later taught English at Viterbo College.
In the 1960s, then-Sister Rosemae and others formed a group after the Vatican Council asked religious communities to create programs to revitalize and update religious life to meet contemporary needs. In 1973, the Vatican approved the transition of members of the group, Provisional Province, to a new religious order named the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist.
Mother Rosemae, co-foundress Mother Shaun Vergauwen and 53 other Sisters of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in La Crosse, Wisconsin, became the first Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist.
Mother Rosemae served as Mother General until 2005 and is known as the Mother Foundress, according to the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist website.