SALT LAKE CITY — A funeral Mass was celebrated June 21 for Rosa Winfield Key, 85, who passed away June 11, 2012 of complications from diabetes and renal failure.
"We remember Rosa with very great affection," said the Most Rev. John C. Wester, Bishop of Salt Lake City, who concelebrated the Mass with several priests from the Diocese of Salt Lake at the Cathedral of the Madeleine.
"I was very touched by Rosa and her dedication to the Catholic Church, particularly to deepening the faith among Black Catholics of the Diocese of Salt Lake City," Bishop Wester said. "She is an unsung hero and somebody who worked hard to promote the faith in general and especially among Black Catholics."
In his homily, Bishop Wester extended condolences to Key’s family in the name of the diocese and on behalf of the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women. "Rosa played a very important role in this important organization in our diocese," Bishop Wester said. "God gave Rosa a very beautiful, long and full life. She was blessed with a beautiful family, the gift of God’s faith sustained in deep friendships and numerous accomplishments.
"When I first met Rosa in 2007, I thought, ‘Here is a beautiful woman,’" the bishop said. "She was pretty and gracious and I recognized that her attractiveness was far more than just superficial; she had a profound beauty that came out from the inside. The words ‘beautiful’ and ‘beatitude’ are very close. Rosa was the beatitudes for all of us and she lived them because she lived Christ. She was gentle and kind and a great listener; she had a great capacity to really be present to other people. At the same time, she was determined and not a push over. She fought for what was right with a passion and hungered and thirsted to do away with injustice. She was very successful and did this with Gospel values. To me she was the essence of mercy … and made peace with every aspect of her life."
The most pivotal part of Key’s obituary for the bishop was, "In 1965, the family was baptized and became members of Sacred Heart Catholic Church," he said.
Key was a parishioner of Sacred Heart for almost 50 years and served as president of its Altar Society. Father Eugenio Yarce met Key in 2003 when he became the parish’s pastor.
"Rosa was a leader, a devoted parishioner and someone I counted on and trusted," Fr. Yarce said. "She was on the parish financial committee and an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. She was a sign of hope for our parish in many ways and will be dearly missed."
Key was also a past president of the Salt Lake Deanery, the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women and the Catholic Woman’s League. She also served on the board of the National Council of Catholic Women as international chair and chair of the National Council of Catholic Women Nominating Committee, the Catholic Community Service Board and St. Benedict’s ACT Board. She was appointed by Bishop William K. Weigand to the National Council of Catholic Interracial Justice Committee and was founder of the African American Catholics of Utah. She was awarded the papal honor Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice in 1989.
Bobbie Hunt, past NCCW president and Saint Rose of Lima parishioner, met Key in 1978. "Rosa was the DCCW president then and I was so in awe of her," said Hunt. "She was such a kind, loving, caring woman and she was fun. She was an advocate for people. If you had a just cause, she was there to help. She was a dear friend."
"She was an inspiration for us, still going strong at her age," said Linda Burt, CWL president. "It was an honor to know her and to serve with her."
Jeanne Audiss was Key’s friend for 30 years. "We met at a Salt Lake Deanery meeting in 1982 and she became the wind beneath my wing," Audiss said. "She always supported me when I was struggling and took care of me without judging me. I will miss her pep talks, laughter and companionship."