Mother Rose Elizabeth (Elizabeth Rose) Havican, C.S.C. (1893-1964)
Superior General 1943-1955
Earning an M.A. from the University of Notre Dame in 1924, she did additional graduate work at the University of Wisconsin and Johns Hopkins University. After serving on the faculty of Saint Mary’s College for eleven years, in 1931 she was appointed superior and principal of Saint Paul’s Academy in Washington, DC. And in 1935 she became superior of the Academy of Holy Cross also in Washington. Aware of the need for a liberal arts college for women in Washington, D.C., Sister Rose Elizabeth founded Dunbarton College of Holy Cross in 1935 on the property of the Academy of Holy Cross and became its first president.
In 1939 Mother Rose Elizabeth was elected provincial superior of the Eastern Province of the Sisters of the Holy Cross. During her term she built Moreau Hall on the campus of Dunbarton College, and she purchased the property for St. Angela Hall at Rockville, MD which would serve as the provincialate. At the General Chapter of 1943, Mother Rose was elected superior general and held the position for two terms. During her administration, she visited some 200 schools, colleges and hospitals conducted by the sisters in the United States and East Pakistan (Bangladesh). In 1947 she established the Holy Cross mission in Sao Paulo, Brazil, with an elementary and a secondary school and a catechetical center. She was also very supportive of Holy Cross College, the only women’s college in East Pakistan.
In 1947 she was awarded a Doctor of Letters, HONORIS CAUSA, from the University of Notre Dame, and in 1949 served as a witness to the sanctity of Blessed Basil Moreau when his cause was introduced in Rome.
Upon completion of her second term as superior general until her death in 1964, Mother Rose Elizabeth continued to serve in a variety of ministries: teaching in the department of education at Dunbarton; serving on the provincial council of the Eastern Province; as an advisor to the foundation of the Sister Formation Conference, being elected in 1955 as the first chairperson of the Eastern Region of the Conference. In 1956 she organized the first symposium of the Conference “Holiness is Wholeness” in Washington, and in 1958 she was elected National Vice Chairperson of the Conference. Throughout her ten years with the conference she spoke at and delivered many significant papers. During the August prior to her death, she delivered two important papers at the annual meeting for local superiors at Stonehill College in North Easton, MA.
A truly remarkable woman, Mother Rose Elizabeth is emblematic of the many Sisters of the Holy Cross who have labored in the United States from the late 1840s as collaborators with the priests and brothers of Holy Cross to cement the educational vision of Blessed Basil Moreau first at Notre Dame and then throughout the world.