Sister Rose Marie Kujawa

Sr. Rose Marie Kujawa dies at 79. A devoted leader and role model, Sister’s collaborative spirit and passion for excellence inspired and challenged many.
January 29, 1943 – December 29, 2022
Sister Rose Marie Kujawa

Felician Sisters, family, friends, colleagues and students all mourned the death of Sister Rose Marie Kujawa, who entered eternal life at age 79, after 62 years in religious life.

She was preceded in death by her parents and siblings Helen Hampton, Francis Kujawa, Mary Lou Koziel, and Rosemarie Kujawa. She is survived by her sister Laura Colasinski, and brother John Kujawa, and by nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews.

Jane Kujawa was born in Detroit, the sixth of seven siblings of Francis and Anna (Rakoczy) Kujawa: Mary Lou Koziel+, Helen Hampton+, Francis+, Laura Colasinski, Rosemarie+, Jane Sister Rose Marie) and John. After attending St. John Cantius Grade School and Felician Academy, she was accepted into the Felician Congregation in 1960, received the name Sister Rose Marie and pronounced final vows in 1968.

Articles, reviews research, publications and presentations over the years attest to her active life of more than 50 years in the ministry of education. Sister Rose Marie received a Baccalaureate degree from Madonna (College) University, a Master’s degree and Ph.D. from Wayne State University and a Doctor of humanities degree at Madonna’s 71st Commencement, May 12, 2018. Her visionary leadership, distance-learning degree programs and partnerships in Taiwan, China, Haiti and the United Arab Emirates were among the accomplishments which led to the honorary degree.

Assigned as a teacher for the first 12 years, Sister taught at St. Valentine, Bishop Borgess and Ladywood High School. In 1976, Sister was assigned to Madonna College and during her first appointment in the mathematics department, organized and taught the first computer courses. This was followed with additional responsibilities in the Planning and Development Office. As academic dean, Sister Rose Marie organized the first graduate program in 1982, a joint venture of the nursing and business departments, and was responsible for the export of Madonna’s graduate program to Taiwan, a step which confirmed the University’s direction in international studies.

In 1979 Sister began a 17-year service as academic dean and vice president and it was during this time that Madonna College was transitioned to Madonna University. Over the years Sister also served on several boards such as the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, Orchard Lake Schools, Saints Cyril and Methodius Seminary, Marywood Nursing Care Center, Angela Hospice and St. Mary Hospital.

During the 1994 provincial elections, Sister Rose Marie was elected to the leadership team. She spent six years as Provincial Secretary of the Felician Sisters of Livonia, and prior to her passing, she served as local minister of Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Central Convent in Livonia. She received her master’s and Ph.D. from Wayne State University.

Her travels abroad have included visits to more than 30 countries around the world, the fruits of which reaped the admission of international students to Madonna University from more than 40 countries, as well as a student exchange program in Japan.

July 1, 2001, was another milestone. Sister Rose Marie was appointed sixth president of Madonna University, a position she held for 14 years. During her presidency, Madonna saw enrollment increase by 10 percent to more than 4,000 students; the launch of its first doctoral program; and more than $40 million in campus improvements, including increasing the size of the campus, building a new athletic complex and updating classrooms, laboratories and residence halls with state-of-the-art technology.  

Her commitment to academics resulted in the growth of academic programs to 100 undergraduate and 35 graduate offerings. A tireless advocate for making a Madonna education accessible to more people, Sister Rose Marie fostered the expansion of study abroad programs and focused increased attention on diversity and programs for underserved populations. Her dedication to serving others compelled her to establish the Haiti Educational Leadership Program, which has graduated more than 70 students since 2014.

Sister retired on June 30, 2015, after the successful completion of Madonna University’s $50 million capital campaign and construction of a new science and media building, entitled the Franciscan Center, which is Livonia’s first LEED-certified building at the Gold level.

Within three months of her service at Madonna, Sister discerned yet another call to ministry, this time in the Archdiocese of Detroit, where she served as the Delegate for Consecrated Life for the Archdiocese.

A devoted leader and role model, Sister Rose Marie’s collaborative spirit and passion for excellence have inspired and challenged many. 

Among the honorary degrees and honors bestowed on Sister Rose Marie over her 60 years as a Felician Sister, one stands out:  the PRO ECCLESIA ET PONTIFICE medal – “For Church and Pope.”  On Sunday, March 21, 2021, Sister Rose Marie received this rare papal honor awarded by Pope Francis for six decades of selfless ministry and service to the local and universal Church.  The medal, established by Pope Leo XIII in 1888, was bestowed on Sister Rose Marie by His Excellency, Archbishop Allen Vigneron, during a prayer service at St. Colette Parish in Livonia, Michigan.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations to the Felician Sisters Retirement Fund.

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Serving where needed since 1874

Founded in Poland in 1855, the Felician Sisters are a congregation of women religious inspired by the spiritual ideals of their foundress, Blessed Mary Angela Truszkowska, and Saints Francis of Assisi, Clare of Assisi and Felix of Cantalice. Arriving in North America in 1874 following Blessed Mary Angela’s directive “to serve where needed,” they helped to weave the social service system. Today, the Felician Sisters founded, sponsor or support through the presence of our sisters, more than 40 ministries – all continuing to evolve to meet the needs of the people they serve.

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