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Sister Rita

True humility consists in being ready

For whatever God asks of you

and happy that He should do it.

- Saint Teresa of Avila

I grew up in Bridgeport, Connecticut. From early childhood I wanted to become a nurse. My mother had a nurse friend who especially impressed me, and my older sister Grace became a nurse. I eagerly read the Sue Barton books that were then popular.


In high school I responded to a job opportunity and worked as an aide in the operating room after school.Though I most enjoyed transporting patients back and forth from surgery, I also learned the names of the various surgical instruments which I helped to wash and sterilize. Later as a student nurse I amazed my classmates with my prior knowledge of these instruments when we had our O.R. experience!


As a registered nurse I worked on a medical floor at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Bridgeport and then as a Clinical Instructor working with students, helping them put their classroom learning into practice with real patients.


An article in Missionhurst Magazine drew me into the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (ICM Sisters) which I entered in Albany, New York. After profession I was sent to St. Croix in the U.S Virgin Islands, where I helped establish a Family Health Program within the work of the existing Catholic Social Center. I loved the Caribbean and its people whom I met in the course of my time there.


It was on the beautiful island of Dominica in the West Indies that I experienced a call to contemplative life. To my surprise there were no contemplative communities in the area where I was located, so I was advised to return to the States, which I did. Eventually I entered our Discalced Carmelite Monastery which was located in the Bronx, N.Y. That was forty-four years ago.


Life in Carmel continues to unfold day by day, as we go about our common tasks, our particular work and our times of prayer. I cherish our times of solitary prayer: one hour in the early morning and another hour in the late afternoon. We pray the Divine Office together four times each day. Our daily Mass is celebrated  by priests whom we are fortunate to have available to us. We appreciate each one and his particular gift in celebrating liturgy. We take turns planning the music for both the Divine Office and Mass. This is something I enjoy doing.


Our Carmelite saints lend their particular spiritual grounding to me. St. Teresa of Avila says in her book, The Way of Perfection:  “God’s glory and the good of God’s Church are my only wishes.” St. John of the Cross, in his poem, The Spiritual Canticle, says:  “Come beloved, let us go forth and behold ourselves in your beauty, to the mountain and to the hill.”


I will end with words of my own, written during my early years in Carmel:


Love gives joy to its lover,

Simple joy, quiet joy,


Except by those who know it.


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