April 28, 1916 — August 29, 2011
Sister Rita Kurry had a long religious life which included different ministries all in accord with Julie’s vision for her Sisters. Of her 77 years as a Sister of Notre Dame, Sister Rita spent 37 of them in the class-room. She taught grades 3 to 8 in the following elementary schools: Holy Trinity, Dayton (1939-1943); St. Veronica, Hamilton (1943-1948); St. George, Cincinnati (1948-1949, 1951-1952); St. Michael, Sharonville (1949-1951); Holy Cross, Columbus (1952-1955). The following years Sister Rita taught in High Schools of the Province: St. Xavier Commercial High School, Cincinnati (1950-1955); Mt. Notre Dame Academy, Reading, (1960-1961); Notre Dame High School, Chicago (1961-1971); Julienne High School (1971-1973); Chamiinade-Julienne High School, Dayton (1973-1976).
As a teacher, Sister Rita especially loved working with those who had difficulty in learning. In a reflection paper she noted" …it gave me such satisfaction to help the students feel the thrill of Shakespeare at a level that they could understand. They could carry their textbooks proudly because they were really learning.” Although Sister Rita stated her love for those who had difficulty in learning, she shared her devoted attention to all of her students – every class, every student and every level.
After her years of classroom teaching, Sister Rita spent time in community service at St. Agnes Convent where she was living (1976-1979). She expanded her service to community outreach when she moved to St. James Convent in Wyoming, Ohio (1979-1986). There she was active in providing Eucharistic services for parishioners who were hospitalized or housebound. She joined the Senior Program of the parish and was the president of that group for several years.
In 1986 Sister Rita returned to Mt. Notre Dame. There she served as an active member on the Finance Team for five years. Following this ministry, she was the gracious receptionist for the Province offices for seven years. After her many years of active service, in 2003 she happily settled into ministry of prayer. This was a time of special delight when she could spend extra time praying for those she loved. Some of those for whom she specially prayed were the Sisters in active ministry and the young women who were discerning a way of life in Notre Dame.
As we reflect on Sr. Rita’s long life in various ministries, it is good to look at what led to this life of devoted service. Clearly it began with her early life in a large and loving family. Then it was implemented by her solid educational foundation.
Rita began her life in Hamilton, Ohio, on April 28, 1916. She was the ninth of ten children born to Henry and Apolonia (Obringer) Kurry. Her Christian path began shortly after at her baptism at St. Joseph Church on May 21. She was placed under the patronage of St. Rita, the name by which she was known for most of her life. Later it was at St. Joseph School that she began her formal education. Here, too, her spiritual life was enhanced as she received two additional sacraments: the Eucharist when she made her first Holy Communion and Confirmation, the sacrament of strength, when she was confirmed.
After graduating from St. Joseph elementary school in 1930, Rita continued her education at Notre Dame High School. Here she came to know the Sisters of Notre Dame in a whole new way. As she helped them in various ways, she found much to admire in them as they worked together with each other and with the students. She came to realize that God was inviting her to join with these sisters in a very special way. So it was that after her graduation in June 1934, Rita entered with the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur on October 2.
After six months as a postulant, Rita received the habit of a Sister of Notre Dame in April of 1935. She was given the religious name Sister Getrude Adela. She was known by that name until 1969 when the Sisters were given the option of resuming the use of their Baptismal name. She then became known as Sister Rita.
Along with her teaching assignments Sister Rita continued her pursuit of knowledge at Our Lady of Cincinnati College. In 1960 she was awarded a BS in Education. This was not the end of her studies. For the following summers she attended classes at Cardinal Stritch where she fine-tuned her teaching skills, especially in the art of working with students in the area of reading. In the summer of 1968 Sister Rita completed studies leading to the degree of Master of Arts as a Reading Specialist. Thus she was well equipped for her strong involvement in the field of reading.
On the morning of August 29th Sister Rita’s long career of loving service came to a gentle con- clusion shortly after she was anointed. Peacefully she left us to enter into the eternal joy she had been promised and had looked forward to through the many years of her life.
As we gather for this farewell, we the Sisters of Notre Dame and her devoted family members, experience a sense of loss, but even more we rejoice that she is now with the Lord, the love of her life for all eternity.
A former student of Sister Rita offered the following quote as a fitting tribute:
Some people come into our lives and quickly go.
Some stay for a while and leave footprints on our hearts,
And we are never the same.
Sister Rita was one of these!
Sister Alma Grollig, SNDdeN
August, 29, 2011