Sister of St. Joseph of Peace Rosalie DuMont (Sister Carmel Joseph), a teacher and principal in Catholic schools in Washington and British Columbia for over 35 years, died in Chilliwack, British Columbia on October 1, 2003 at the age of 93. In retirement, Sister Rosalie volunteered as a pastoral minister with the Skwah First Nation; she became a beloved friend to the Skwah people and will be honored by being buried in their cemetery in Chilliwack after her Funeral Mass on October 7, 2003.
Born in Nelson, B.C. on Christmas Day, 1909, Sister Rosalie was the eldest of the nine children of Elizabeth (Wellie) and Mark DuMont. She completed a teaching certificate at Victoria Normal and taught for twelve years in the rural schools of Rock Mountain and Hunter Siding, British Columbia In the one-room school at Hunter Siding, a logging camp at the head of the Slocan River, Miss DuMont — as she was then known — taught students, mainly from the Doukhobour community, in first through eighth grade
At the age of 32, Sister Rosalie decided to enter religious life, becoming one of six DuMont cousins to make this choice. She entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace in September, 1943, at Bellingham, Washington. As most Sisters did in those years, she taught during the school year and attended classes at Seattle University and Western Washington University during the summers, finally receiving her Bachelor’s degree from WWU in 1952.
Sister Rosalie taught and served as Principal in schools in Bellevue, Mount Vernon, Port Angeles, Seattle and Wenatchee, Washington and in Trail and Vernon, British Columbia. One story from those days marks Sister Rosalie’s strong sense of justice: she was teaching in a well-to-do parish school in Seattle, and had one African-American child in her class. Though some parents threatened to take their children out of the May procession if the African-American girl was included, Sister Rosalie insisted that she be part of the procession and part of all class activities.
In 1981 Sister Rosalie moved to Chilliwack, which became her retirement community. For this active woman, retirement was only the beginning of new kinds of ministry. She delighted in gardening and cooking, in offering hospitality to many visiting Sisters and friends, and in volunteering for St. Mary’s Church. Through St. Mary’s, she began to connect with the Skwah First Nation.
Among the Skwah First Peoples, she visited and ministered to the sick and the grieving. She attended many Skwah community functions, always bringing offerings from her kitchen and her garden. In 1994, Sister Rosalie was named an honorary member of the Skwah First Nation, and given the name Xpa:yelhpot, which translates as “Cedar Woman,” perhaps in reference to Sister Rosalie’s commanding height and strength. The Skwah people said of her at the time, “the word ‘tired’ doesn’t exist in her vocabulary. Sister Rosalie has touched the lives of many people in a very special way. She is a special friend of the Skwah Band.”
In recent years, Sister Rosalie made her home at the Birchwood Retirement Residence and at Valley Haven. She is survived by her brothers Carl (Lee), Paul (Anna), and Alfred (Marguerite) DuMont, her sister Elizabeth DuMont Fanning, and many nephews, nieces and cousins, among them Father Mark DuMont, O.S.B., Sister Louise DuMont, C.S.J.P. and Sister Lucy DuMont, S.S.A.
People from the Skwah First Nation, friends from Chilliwack and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace joined to remember and honor Sister Rosalie at a vigil service at St. Mary’s Church, Chilliwack at 7 PM on October 6th and in a Funeral Mass celebrated by Father Mark DuMont at 2 PM on October 7th, followed by internment in the Skwah First Nation Cemetery.