[dropcap type=”4″]R[/dropcap]osemary Dougherty credits her 12 years of Catholic education and the strong faith and family bonds nurtured in her first-generation Italian American home for helping her weather the storms of life. There have been more than a few for this energetic, devout woman. Having experienced sorrow and hardship in her life, Dougherty’s faith is like gold tested in fire: solid, shiny and true. The mind-boggling list of parish and community organizations she’s involved makes you wonder where all that energy comes from. Then you realize: this is a person driven by service to others, not herself.

A few years ago, Dougherty was diagnosed with stage-four cancer and wasn’t expected to survive. That’s when she was asked to be treasurer of her parish’s women’s guild. She wound up serving as treasurer for three years and then president as two. These days, she visits the hospital twice a month, bringing Communion, among many other acts of service. [quote_box_right]

Parish: Our Lady of Lourdes

Apostolates: Feed the Hungry, Women’s Guild, Phoenix Diocesan Council of Women, Extraordinary Minister, Ministry of Care

Hometown: Carbondale, Penn.

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Who has been the biggest influence in your life?

The Immaculate Heart of Mary nuns who taught me at St. Rose of Lima School were very kind to me. Sr. Doloritas was a beautiful, tall, stately nun. She was just wonderful. I think my Catholic education really got me through life because things happened along the way that were difficult.

What sort of difficulties?

I had four children and my second baby was full term but died of hyaline membrane disease. I not only lost the baby, but a few days later I was put in the hospital in the intensive care unit with an infection and almost died. My parents buried the baby in their plot.

How did you get through that?

It was a very big thing. It was my faith and talking to friends, praying, talking to my priest. I just got through it but it was very, very difficult.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learned in life?

Be flexible. Be open. Listen to other people without judging. Be a team player.

What are you passionate about?

Right now I am president of Food for the Hungry in our parish. It’s a big job in which we serve three different food banks in the area. It’s all in being there and helping people and doing for others.

Why this issue? Did you go to bed hungry growing up?

No, but my dad was a barber and we didn’t have much money, not at all. My mother worked in a dress factory. She waited until we grew older, but she made 15 cents an hour and for $15 a week when I was growing up, she put a hot meal on the table every night. It was unbelievable how she did that with that little money.

You’ve survived a number of difficulties.

My faith has been tested my whole life with a lot of things. My son, my husband [who served in Vietnam and Desert Storm]…losing my baby… I was very sick very a couple years ago when I had cancer. Now my oncologist said she doesn’t need to see me anymore.

Why are you so active in the Church?

I love God. And everyone is God’s temple, every person, and I love people. I find it [volunteering] very rewarding. I love the Church and I love the community. I volunteer for the rec centers too and a lot of other things. When I had my cancer I told them I wanted my radiation treatments after 4 p.m. because I have a lot of things to do.

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