Sister Evelyn Rose, OP (née Alycia Morse) was born in Mesa, Arizona, the fourth of five children of a Protestant father and a mother from a strong Hispanic Catholic background. Although he agreed to let the children be raised in the Catholic faith, Sister Evelyn Rose’s father did not really understand Catholicism. He and his family of origin had church-hopped during his own growing-up years, leaving him with a vague “question authority” worldview but no real connection to any faith. Sister Evelyn Rose and her siblings went to Mass and received the sacraments, but they were mostly encouraged towards skepticism.
Then when she was 15, her father came back a changed man from a military tour of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. “After my father’s conversion is when I really began to delve into my own faith,” Sister Evelyn Rose says. “I was fortunate enough to be able to attend an excellent Catholic high school, and I spent my first two years studying theology seriously and trying to discern whether Church teachings were true.”
The process that had begun with her father’s conversion came to fruition on a specific weekend two years later. Her junior year of high school, Sister Evelyn Rose attended a youth retreat and was transformed forever by her first experience of Eucharistic adoration. “It was the first time I had come face-to-face with Jesus in that intimate, sweet way. I just knew in that moment that I wanted to commit myself completely to my Catholic faith and live it out to the best of my ability.”
She applied and was accepted to Benedictine College, a Catholic school in Kansas with an excellent theology department, the subject of her major. She briefly joined ROTC with the thought of following her father’s footsteps into military service, and she also began discerning marriage with a young man who himself had discerned out of religious life. He shared openly with her about the joys and challenges he had encountered during his time with the Fathers of Mercy (Nashville, Tennessee) but was also clear with her that his own vocation was to marriage.
Sister Evelyn Rose says that even as she and this young man were discerning the idea of a marriage centered around the sacraments, the thought of religious life kept entering her mind. She knew she could not lead him on. “He was the first person I ever told out loud about my possible vocation. He was very excited for me, but it did of course put a strain on our relationship. So after four months of dating, we agreed to break up so that I could focus on discerning my vocation.”
Working part-time as an aide for children with autism, Sister Evelyn Rose completed her theology degree and contacted the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Cecilia, the Dominican community in Nashville, Tennessee. During the summer between her freshman and sophomore years of college, she had intensively researched religious orders and determined that if she had a vocation, it was probably to the Dominicans. At the end of the day on which she had reached that conclusion, she settled in for bedtime reading with her book of saints and opened to that day’s page—August 8, the Feast of St Dominic. She had taken it as a sign, and when she visited the Dominicans two years later, she knew for sure.
“May 2017 was a big month for me,” Sister Evelyn Rose says. “I watched the boy I had dated get married to one of my best friends, I received my degree in theology—and I set foot in the motherhouse in Nashville for the first time. As soon as I did, I knew that this was what my heart longed for and where God wanted me to be.”
Sister Evelyn Rose worked for a year to pay down her student loans, and then received the MEFV grant that allowed her to enter formation as a postulant in August 2018. She received the habit and entered the novitiate on August 8, 2019.