Sister Rita (formerly Sister M. Esther) was born in Manhattan, New York, and grew up in Windsor, Vermont, attending Windsor public schools. She entered the Sisters of Mercy on September 8, 1955 and earned a BA in English from Trinity College in 1960. She continued her education, earning a master’s degree in education in secondary science from Miami University, Ohio, in 1969.
Sister Rita taught middle school science at Catholic schools in Vermont: St. Michael’s in Montpelier, St. Monica’s in Barre, Cathedral and Mater Christi in Burlington, and Landmark College in Putney. Sister was principal at St. Francis Xavier School in Winooski. She served on the faculty at Mt. Carmel School in Saipan Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) from 1996 to 1997. She also worked in parish religious education programs in Burlington, Montpelier, St. Albans, and Barre. Her ministries also included tutoring students of all ages, preparing immigrants for citizenship and visiting inmates in correction facilities.
She served on several community boards, including Dismas House, United Way and the National Science Teachers Association.
Sister Rita was a talented musician and taught piano to many students. She delighted in attending the Jazz Festival. Sister was the music director at Mount Saint Mary Convent and at Our Lady of Providence Residence, where she frequently served as cantor and keyboardist and contributed greatly to liturgical celebrations.