Maria Droste convent closes its doors

Maria Droste Contemplative Community closed its altar bread services on November 30, 2019. For nearly 150 years the Sisters at Maria Droste had provided altar bread hosts for many parishes in the Archdiocese of St. Louis and throughout the Midwest region.

The Sisters stopped baking their own altar bread when they left the Marygrove convent in Florissant, Missouri, in 2015 and moved to the Normandy campus. They continued to distribute hosts for a company until last year. Sister Sharon Rose Authorson managed the ministry. 

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Sister Sharon Rose Authorson prepares to ship altar bread.

Father Joe Weber, priest at St. Monica Parish in St. Louis, said, “I got to know Sr. Sharon Rose over the years as she managed the altar bread ministry. She was a joy to work with. If we needed to change the order she happily accommodated us. And she reminded us that the Good Shepherd Contemplative Sisters were always praying for their customers.”

For some of us, our life’s work defines us, shapes our attitudes and beliefs, and makes us feel good about ourselves. For me, this has been being God’s servant in the altar bread ministry for 56 years. ~ Sister Sharon Rose Authorson

Giving up what we love

Sister Sharon Rose said, “It is never easy giving up something that we love, something we are passionate about, something that makes us feel energized and gives us the satisfaction of knowing that this thing we are doing fulfills our life’s purpose and brings us closer to God. 

“But alas, some things are out of our control altogether. Giving up something we love has to take place, and we have to surrender into the reality of letting go,” she said.

Sister Sharon Rose continued reflecting and said, “For some of us, our life’s work defines us, shapes our attitudes and beliefs, and makes us feel good about ourselves. For me, this has been being God’s servant in the altar bread ministry for 56 years.”

Sister Sharon Rose began making altar bread hosts when she was a 17-year-old novice. She said she knew from the beginning that this was her calling, her destiny in serving God and His flock.

The Mid-North America Province officially closed the doors to Maria Droste on January 24. Father Ron Chochol officiated Eucharistic Mass, followed by a pizza party. Sisters Sharon Rose and Elizabeth Garciano had become the last two remaining Sisters in Community. 

Sister Elizabeth left the convent on January 31, 2020, to take a year’s sabbatical, after having served as Local Leader of the Maria Droste Contemplative Community.

Loving farewell to Maria Droste Community

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One of the many religious artifacts from the Maria Droste convent that awaits relocation to another sacred place within the St. Louis Archdiocese.

Sister Sharon Rose was the final Sister to leave the convent. She moved to Mason Pointe Care Center in March 2020. She joined Good Shepherd Contemplative and Apostolic Sisters who were missioned to Mason Pointe in December 2018 when the Immaculate Heart Convent in Normandy closed 

Sister Sharon Rose sorted through and boxed up items to donate to parishes and other nonprofits in St. Louis before leaving the Maria Droste convent. Sister Maureen Johnson came from the Contemplative Community in Cheltenham, Pennsylvania, to help with the packing and to lend moral support to Sister Sharon Rose during the emotional change. 

The Contemplative Sisters had lived in the Maria Droste convent for five years. Before coming to Normandy, both Apostolic and Contemplative Sisters lived at Marygrove in Florissant, Missouri. They moved there on August 15, 1969. Marygrove was sold to Catholic Charities in 1983. The Contemplative Sisters were allowed to live there until 2015.

“We say a sad goodbye and give a loving farewell to the Maria Droste Contemplative Community,” said Province Leader Madeleine Munday.

You can read more stories about the Maria Droste Contemplative Community in back issues of Items of Interest.

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Sisters sift through an album of memories before closing the Maria Droste convent.
Jeanette McDermott

Jeanette McDermott

Jeanette is the Communications Coordinator for Sisters of the Good Shepherd Province of Mid-North America. She is a career photojournalist who has served in various capacities of print, broadcast, and corporate communications. Jeanette is devoted to creation and is particularly focused on saving pollinators and other wildlife species and their habitat. She is an ethical vegan and created the website