Written on: April 22, 2021
Sister Rita was born in Buffalo, New York, where she shared family life with her parents and her brother, Richard.
After graduating from D’Youville College in Buffalo, Rita earned an MA in Philosophy from the University of Toronto and taught for several years at Marymount Junior College in Arlington, VA, before entering the Grey Nuns. She taught philosophy and English literature at Sacred Heart Junior College, D’Youville Academy and Holy Angels Academy before earning her certification as a Reading Specialist from Temple University.
Working with young children with reading difficulties was a transformative experience for her; she entered the world of the child. She transitioned from this work to many years in ministry with learning impaired adults, those with dyslexia, and refugees to whom she taught English as a Second Language at the Adult Learning Center in Buffalo. She speaks of this as the most fulfilling part of her ministerial life, feeling a great kinship with those to whom she ministered.
Even after retiring, she continued as a literacy volunteer at the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library.
Gregory Boyle has said, “Every once in a while we have this great privileged moment when we get to stand with those whose dignity has been denied.”
It was the privilege of the 60 years of my Grey Nun life to teach reading to the reading disabled and ESL to refugees. But it was my main task those many years to stand against the false notion that the lives of these left-out people mattered less than other lives. I resonate with the experience of many who find it hard to tell who is the service provider and who the service recipient, it’s so mutual. I’m forever grateful to my students for gracing my existence and to the Grey Nuns to whom I owe this whole, blessed dimension of my life.
I’m likewise grateful for my life of prayer, for my Grey Nun friends, for the tremendous care I’ve received since I got cancer, for my life at Holy Redeemer Lafayette, and for all who give me prompt assistance with all my daily needs and problems. Finally, I’m grateful to God for getting his hooks in me, reeling me in and keeping me close for all these years.
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