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“Called to Have a Food Bank” — Northern Illinois Food Bank Mourns the Loss of Founder, Sister Rosemarie Burian

(GENEVA, Ill., September 25, 2019) – The Northern Illinois Food Bank family has suffered the loss of its founder, Sister Rosemarie Burian, who died peacefully on September 22. She was 83.

Sr. Rosemarie, who was “called to have a food bank” in May 1982, set in motion a movement to feed the hungry of her community. Just six months later, Sr. Rosemarie and a team of volunteers and supporters incorporated Bethlehem Center in Carol Stream, which eventually became Northern Illinois Food Bank. Though she moved on to other work in 1986, she continued to serve the organization as part of its Emeritus Board.

“Sr. Rosemarie was a gentle force, inspiring everyone she met to action by serving the needs of others: if not us, who? If not now, when? If not for the kingdom, why?” shared Jim Truesdale, fellow Emeritus Board Member and President of the first Board of Directors, Bethlehem Center. “We feel privileged to have known her and to have been involved in the formation of the Food Bank and continue to be influenced by her every day.”

Sr. Rosemarie’s passion was to help the “hidden poor” of DuPage County. She often recounted that people found it hard to believe that there were hungry people in the relative wealth and prosperity of DuPage County.

“[Sister is] a testament to the will of one person. To step out in courage, just like our neighbors do every day. She not only provided food, but also provided inspiration for people,” said Julie Yurko, Northern Illinois Food Bank President and CEO.

Sr. Rosemarie fought for years against the stigmas of hunger and poverty. “You can think, ‘oh, this community has money’ but there is always another side of the story. I wish I had recorded the number of times someone said they never thought it could happen to them,” she said.

“Sr. Rosemarie believed that no one should go without food,” said Dennis Smith, former Executive Director & CEO of Northern Illinois Food Bank. “On several occasions she visited the Food Bank while I was CEO. Her singular concern was if we were providing enough food for our hungry neighbors. Sr. Rosemarie involved entire communities in the fight against hunger. The memory of her actions and leadership will continue to influence us even now that she is no longer with us.”

“[Her legacy is] the power of deep caring and love for one’s community, and that she loved people and trusted God,” said Yurko.

View her full obituary here.

To friends of the Food Bank who knew Sister Rosemarie, and on behalf of her and the Wheaton Franciscan Sisters, details of memorial services are below.

Visitation/Memory Service
Thursday, September 26, 2019
Visitation 3:00 – 8:00 p.m.; Memory Service at 4:00 p.m.
Our Lady of the Angels Chapel, Wheaton Franciscan Sisters
26W171 Roosevelt Rd., Wheaton, Illinois 60187
Entrance #5

Mass of Christian Burial
Friday, September 27, 2019 – 10:00 a.m.
Our Lady of the Angels Chapel, Wheaton Franciscan Sisters
26W171 Roosevelt Rd., Wheaton, IL 60187
Entrance #5

About Northern Illinois Food Bank

Northern Illinois Food Bank, a member of Feeding America, is a non-profit organization that engages the community to solve hunger in Northern Illinois. Since 1983, food manufacturers, local grocers, corporations, foundations, and individuals have come together to donate food and funds, and evaluate and repack food for distribution to more than 900 community food pantries and feeding programs serving more than half a million hungry neighbors every year across 13 counties. That commitment provided nearly 69.1 million meals to those in need in FY19. Northern Illinois Food Bank has centers in Geneva (West Suburban Center), Park City (North Suburban Center) Rockford (Northwest Center), and Joliet (South Suburban Center). Find out how you can volunteer, donate or get involved at, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.