We Remember Sister Rita Frances Brady

Written on: February 23, 2016

Sister Rita Frances Brady, GNSH, 79, died February 20,2016. Following is the reflection delivered by Sister Mary Elizabeth Looby, GNSH at her funeral liturgy on February 24.

Another reflection on Sister Rita was given on the Feast of the Sacred Heart. Please click here to read that reflection. 

The other day, when I was in Rita Frances’ bedroom, I noticed that she surrounded herself with photos and mementos of her large loving family and her many friends.  Among the photos were her sisters, Mary, Donna, Helen and many of you who were able to join us this morning to celebrate her life.   She went to as many family events as she could:  baptisms, first communions, weddings, and family funerals.  She loved each of you very much.  She worried about you, prayed for you, probably even scolded you at times, but always loved you.

The other family visible in her room was her Grey Nun family, her “band” (the women with whom she entered the congregation), her colleagues, companions and dear friends.  We have laughed together, cried and supported each other through the many ups and downs of community life.  Her heart was with the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart.

She had great devotion to the Sacred Heart, the Blessed Mother, St. Joseph, and of course St. Marguerite d’Youville, foundress of the Grey Nuns.  She blended her life of compassion and generosity with a practical concern for taking action.

A third family were the many friends and colleagues in the ministries in which she served.  A tribute to her is the mailbox at Lafayette: always full!  She was a habitual note and letter writer, and kept in touch by phone, too, with her many friends.

She helped create “family” wherever she lived or ministered.  She spent most of her religious life, 44 years, in the North Country of the Ogdensburg diocese, serving as teacher; nurse’s aide at St. Joseph’s Home; school principal in Canton and Ogdensburg; as librarian, but her ministry did not end there…

On weekends, she taught religious education in the parish and visited the sick. Rita coached basketball, taught Irish step dancing, taught music for liturgy and shows, sang in the Choir at St. Joseph’s Church. She prepared bulletin boards for “her library” and for other parts of the school, enlisted the help of students and adults in keeping them fresh and interesting. And she he never failed to support and cheer for her beloved Mets.

Sister Rita Frances Brady was a native of  the Town of Madrid, located in Northern New York.  The daughter of James and Mabel (Cavanaugh) Brady, she grew up on a farm and loved the country.  When driving past farms, she could tell every kind of cattle, and what their special attributes were.  She loved the sheep, alpacas and llamas that we’d see.

Her farm girl roots run deep and came out after her heart surgery when she told us that she felt as though she’d been “run over by a tractor” and that “by mistake they had put garden hoses into her abdomen.”

She grew up in a family of six with two brothers, James and Joseph.  James continued farming and Joseph went into the air force and FBI.  Rita’s sister, Mary was married and had a family of 12 children; Her sister, Helen was a teacher and never married; Donna was a high school teacher, married, and had three children.

Illness was a part of Rita Frances’ life from an early age.  She tried hard not to be a “burden” to others and worked hard–over-doing, really.  We knew that she had cardiovascular issues that were getting more and more complicated.  I use to tease her and tell her that it was “sheer will-power” that helped her to do all she did in her lifetime.  She worked through and past the physical issues she had.

Before the heart surgery, she called the principal at Grey Nun Academy, Deborah Kost, to be sure she would be welcomed back in September for her volunteer position there.  School was such an integral part of her life.

I wish I could share with you all the e-mails, Facebook posts, and phone contacts I have had in these past weeks, but we would have to be here for many days!  Just an indication of the volume of them, the morning before the heart surgery, the phone in our apartment rang at 7:15 a.m.  It was Rita Frances. They were late picking her up to go down to surgery.  She wanted to thank me for being her “secretary” in responding to all the contacts that she knew would come from family and friends.

I asked her if she was afraid and she said she was a little.  I told her I would be praying like fury for her and that many others would, too.  “Good” she said, “that’s what I needed to hear.”

In closing, I’d like to share just a few comments that came from friends and family:

Moriah Brady Warren,Grandniece of Sr. Rita:  “Being soft and being strong is something very few master in life, and you Aunt Rita, have managed to do both with grace, strength and your unique humor.  I love you dearly.” 

Katy Sherman, former student at Holy Family School, Malone, now in college studying in Florida:  “I know it is Lent and I am supposed to be off Facebook but when I heard about this, I had to say how much of a positive influence Sr. Rita had in my life while I was attending Holy Family School in Malone. It breaks my heart to hear this news. I remember her always there at the basketball games cheering us on, walking in the library just to see her smile, and the gratefulness she had when my family brought her a roast beef sandwich from Stewarts and a “dunkin donut” iced coffee. She was a beautiful woman of God inside and out.  I know that she is with God watching over all of us.”

Catherine Shelters Greiner, Niece:  “Early this morning our “Brady” family in heaven became complete and I’m sure were happy to welcome Aunt Rita home. And now we “Brady” cousins have another angel to look over us. Hugs and kisses to our loved ones who have passed.”

Judy Poupore, Friend:  “It is so sad for us that Sister has finally arrived home. I pray she was welcomed by her mom and dad and all those she loved and missed. She was a friend to me when I needed her most. I will miss her tremendously.”

Rest in peace dear Rita Frances.

You have run the race well.

Be at peace!

Fr. Martin Cline:  notes from Homily at Sr. Rita Frances Brady’s Funeral:  2/24/16

Condolences from:  A grateful School, Holy Family School in Malone, the Ogdensburg diocese where Sr. Rita Frances served for 44 years; and especially Msgr. John McAvoy, her cousin, who is unable to be here today for health reasons.

As a child I once stole a bumper sticker.  It read: “Do what you like, like what you do.” That bumper sticker spoke to me of Sr. Rita Frances:  her 60 years in religious life; her many friends; her large loving family;

She liked what she had.

Her whole life was a eulogy on love; she spent her life trying to fulfill Jesus’ command:  “love one another as I have loved you.” Sr. Rita did and made (drove/forced) others to do so also.

In our readings today a question came into my mind:  how long do we look? Jesus said our forgiveness must be 70 times 7; 79 years of age; a lifetime, 60 years as a religious, or does it depend on what we are looking for?




hope and joy

Sr.  Rita told us to look at everyday things; at what you do each day.  As a teacher as a Religious, she found the Lord.

Courageous—a key word in a spiritual journey but like many words the meaning comes not from a dictionary or google but from actions. Courageous Sr. Rita ,18 years old leaves home; 60 years of living her vocation as a Grey Nun of the Sacred Heart.

But ultimately we walk by faith and not by sight: in struggles to understand, in doubts of doing the right thing, in uncertainty of going on, when not looking (physically) we find God!

To many our Gospel makes sense: those that are ill, sick, and dying, this Gospel makes our prayers come alive!

To the brainy, though, a yoke is not easy, it adds more weight, does not ease. It depends on who you are yoked with:  come to me; take MY yoke. Always two-you and the Lord.

In our Gospel: “what we ask is easy and the burden is light”-to love, struggle, sacrifice, continue on. To love is to aspire to please. Sr. Rita never aspired to please, she just did!

Not look; to do. Just part of everyday life, or struggle to do

Today is a day of mourning and prayer to let God wipe away our tears.

Eucharist= thanksgiving

to thank Rita for her dedication to us;

for the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart

for family

Rest in peace, good and faithful servant.  Thank you a million times over, it is all we can say!

Sister Rita Frances Brady, GNSH, 79, died February 20,2016 in Holy Redeemer Hospital, Meadowbrook, PA in the 61 st year of her religious life. Born in Madrid, NY to James H and Mabel Cavanaugh Brady on October 22, 1936, she entered the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart in 1955.

During her 55 years of ministry Sister Rita Frances served as teacher, principal or school librarian, with 44 of those years in her home diocese of Ogdensburg. She taught at Bishop Conroy School (Ogdensburg Central Catholic) from 1971-78 and was principal from 1980-86. She was Religious Education Coordinator at St. Mary’s Parish, Potsdam for two years; followed by nine years as principal at St. Mary’s School, Canton. Moving to Holy Family School in Malone in 1997, she served as teacher and librarian until September 2015 when she relocated to Pennsylvania. Upon arriving there she continued her lifelong connection to elementary students by volunteering at Grey Nun Academy in Yardley, PA.

Additional assignments were in Corona and Jackson Heights, NY; Paoli, Strafford, King of Prussia and Mahanoy City, PA. She was a nurse’s aide at St. Joseph Nursing Home in Ogdensburg from 1978 to 1980. Sister served as a member of the Board of Directors of Claxton Hepburn Medical Center 1999-2001.

She earned a BS in Elementary Education from D’Youville College, an MS in Elementary Education from Potsdam State University and an MS in Administrative Supervision from Plattsburgh University.

Predeceased by her parents, brothers, Joseph and James Brady, sisters, Helen Brady, Donna Shelters, and Mary Gilchriest, she is survived by nieces and nephews in addition to her religious community.

Visitation will be held from 7:00 to 9:00 PM on Tuesday, February 23, 2016 at the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart Motherhouse, 1750 Quarry Road, Yardley, PA 19067. A funeral mass will be offered on Wednesday, February 24 at 10:30 AM in the Motherhouse Chapel with burial to follow in Resurrection Cemetery, Bensalem, PA. Donations in her memory may be made to the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart at the above address, or by clicking on this link

Services provided by Beck-Givnish Life Celebration Home of Levittown, PA

One thought on “We Remember Sister Rita Frances Brady

  1. Carolyn Carr Elliot says:

    I had Sr Rita Frances in 5th grade at Mother of Divine Providence in King of Prussia, PA. She was a guiding light to our class and to me, especially because I had a serious illness that year. She made sure I caught up to the rest of my classmates in our curriculum. We connected on a level that I will remember for the rest of my life. I am 65 yrs old now. The esteem I hold for her will never abate. I truly believe that she was Our Lord’s advocate and the best example of selfless Christianity.

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