Mary Rosalie was born on a farm in County Mayo, Quebec, on July 12, 1892 – one of a family of seven of Michael McCoy and Sarah Lavell, and baptized five days later in the Church of St. Malachy by Reverend R. McGovern. Of the seven children, four embraced religious life. Father (later Monsignor) Edmund was ordained for Calgary diocese in 1916 and died in January, 1971, a few years after resigning from Lethbridge, Alberta. Sister Mary Monica, for forty-four years a Sister of Providence, died in 1951; she was one of the pioneers on the western missions of the Community. Father Remigius entered the Community of White Fathers and is still living in Ghana, Africa, where he has been a missionary for many years.
Rosalie entered the novitiate of the Sisters of Providence in 1925. In 1930, three years after profession as Sister M Ildefonsa, she was assigned to Rosary Hall, Edmonton, and except for six years at Providence Manor, where she took care of Sister M. Monica in the latter’s declining years, she spent practically all her active life on the western missions. She was at Rosary Hall for thirteen years, six of these as Local Superior; at Providence Hospital, Moose Jaw, for ten years; at Holy Family Hospital, Vancouver, for two years as Local Superior. By this time her health had become impaired and after recovering from surgery she spent a couple of years in light duties at St. Joseph’s Hospital, Edmonton and the Father Dowd Home in Montreal. In 1964 she retired to the Marian Infirmary.
Although very frail she was able to follow the spiritual exercises of the community and occupy herself with needlework for about ten years before being admitted to the hospital floor of the Infirmary. Early in January, 1975 it was observed that she was failing and was suffering much pain. Still no one heard a word of complaint from her. But the doctor was called and he advised having her admitted to hospital in the hope that some relief might be afforded her. She was taken in on the 22nd, was anointed and received Holy Communion on the 24th. On the afternoon of the 26th Our Mother General and Sister Grace Maguire visited her and found her very weak but in full possession of her mental faculties. Everyone realized that she had not long to live, but nurses thought there was no immediate danger of death. So Mother and Sister left her about 4 p.m. and were scarcely home when a phone call reported that she had just died. We were sorry that no one of her Community was with Sister Ildefonsa at her last moments, but are grateful that her agony was not prolonged.
On January 29th a large number of nieces and nephews came for the funeral, among them Sister Bernice McCoy, Superior General of the Grey Sisters of Pembroke, Ontario; and Father Brendan O’Brien of Ottawa.
The funeral Mass, in the absence of His Grace, was concelebrated by Monsignor Hanley, Vicar General, Monsignor Welsh and Father Brendan. Monsignor Hanley chose as Gospel reading St. Luke’s account of the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple. He likened Sister M. Ildefonsa (who had filled for many years the office of sacristan in the houses in which she lived) to the prophetess Anna, who served in the Temple for many years, preparing for the celebration of the liturgy; and remarked that Sister could say along with Simeon, “Now you may dismiss your servant in peace, because I have seen your salvation.” Sister Mary Ildefonsa will be remembered for her beautiful life of charity and prayer.