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Guadalcanal Rosary

By Brother Andrew Kosmowski, S.M.

The Marian Library has many items longing to tell their stories. One such item is a rosary we received some time ago. It was made of cowrie shells and paper clips in 1943, given by a Chap. F. A. Evans to a Sister Jeanne D’Arc. Chaplain Evans asks her to pray for him as on the cross is the phrase, “Ora pro me,” Latin for, “Pray for me.” The joining medal and cross are of mother-of-pearl from an undetermined mollusk. Still, we want to know more of the story. Who are these people? How do they know each other?

The rosary was sent to Marion, Ohio, as we have the original packing canister that Chaplain Evans used to send it to Sr. Jeanne D’Arc on October 20, 1943. This parish is in the Diocese of Columbus. Using the diocesan website, we found the site for the Church of Saint Mary in Marion. At this parish’s history page, we learned that its school had Sisters of Charity serving it. We called the order’s Cincinnati archives and spoke with Veronica Buchanan, the archivist. She told us that Sr. Jeanne D’Arc was principal of St. Mary’s School in Marion during World War II and that she was originally Josephine Evans, born in Fayetteville, Ohio, where she met the Sisters of Charity as a student in Saint Patrick’s School. A possible connection: two people with the same last name. Could they be related? If so, how?

Veronica Buchanan continued the sleuthing in the records at the archives of the Sisters of Charity in Cincinnati. In the obituary notices of Sr. Jeanne D’Arc, she found that the sister was survived by, among others, a brother, Monsignor F. A. Evans. We seemed to be on the trail, but needed to make sure that Chaplain F. A. Evans and Monsignor F. A. Evans were indeed the same person. We suspected, but verification is important.

She continued digging and found an obituary for a Monsignor Ferdinand Evans who died in Venice, Florida, and was buried in Saint Patrick’s Cemetery in Fayetteville, Ohio. Msgr. Evans’ and Sr. Evans’ obituaries listed as a survivor Julia Dolph. For us, this is enough evidence to believe that the two Evans are brother and sister.

With the connection established, we are still left with other questions. The obvious one, answered further, is, “Who are these people?” Other questions include whether any rosaries from this time are still extant and if the owners would be willing to share images and their family stories about them to us. We hope the readers of this article can help us with this latter question.

Still, who are these people? Monsignor Evans was born in Fayetteville, Ohio, and also completed primary school at Saint Patrick’s School there. After attending the local public high school, he entered Mount Saint Mary Seminary and was ordained on May 26, 1934. He became a military chaplain in 1940 for the Northern Division of the Ohio National Guard. This division was stationed throughout the South Pacific, including Guadalcanal. In 1945, they liberated the Philippines. Father Evans stayed here to assist the Archdiocese of Manila, where he received the title Monsignor. After World War II, he continued serving the military ordinariate, including in Korea, until he retired with the rank of colonel in 1966. He returned to the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, where he was named pastor of the Church of Saint Matthew in Norwood. As pastor, he inspired the vocation of at least one priest for the archdiocese. He retired to Englewood, Florida, in 1978, where his sister Julia Dolph lived, and there he died in 1998. He lived a long life, nearly 91 years.1

Veronica Buchanan, the archivist of the Sisters of Charity in Cincinnati, was able to provide information on Sister Jeanne D’Arc (nee Josephine) Evans, SC. She was born in 1901 in Fayetteville, Ohio. There she met the Sisters of Charity. In 1928 professed her first vows for the Sisters of Charity, and in 1934 she professed her final vows. Her teaching took her to many places, one of which was Saint Mary’s School in Marion, Ohio, where she received this rosary from her brother. She returned to the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in 1968, after serving in other dioceses, and taught at three schools where she was remembered as a “tremendous teacher” who “demanded and expected her students to reach their highest potential.” She completed her degrees at the College of Mount Saint Joseph and the University of Cincinnati. In 1974, at the age of 73, she retired from teaching and moved to Mother Margaret Hall, the infirmary of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, on the grounds of the College of Mount Saint Joseph, which is where she died in 1991.2

1 Englewood (FL) Sun, November 10, 1998.
2 Archives of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati. Also, Cincinnati Enquirer, January 16, 1991.

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