Maryknoll, NY: Sister Rita Marie Keegan, M.M. died on June 2nd, 2022 at the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY. She was 88 years old and had been a Maryknoll Sister for 65 years.
Rita was born in Richland Center, Wisconsin on September 11th, 1934 to Raymond Keegan and Eulalia (Flannery) Keegan. She had three sisters, Sally, Maureen and Patricia and one brother, Roy. She is survived by Sally, Maureen and Roy.
In 1952, Rita graduated from Richland Center High School. She then studied at Rosary College in River Forest, Illinois from 1952-1956 where she graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in English and Speech Therapy. After graduation she taught in a grade school for one year before entering the Maryknoll Sisters Novitiate in Maryknoll, NY on September 2nd, 1957 (from her home parish, St. Mary in the Diocese of La Crosse, WI.) She pronounced her First Profession of Vows on June 24th, 1960 at the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY and made her Final Profession of Vows on June 24th, 1966 in Cochabamba, Bolivia, South America.
Sister Rita’s first mission assignment was to teach at St. Anthony’s Grade School in the Bronx, NY from 1960-1965. During this time she was also involved in community organizing. In 1965, she received her first overseas mission assignment to Bolivia where she studied the Spanish language in Cochabamba for one year. She then went to Montero to teach and work in community services.
From 1969-1978, she was in Santa Cruz doing community development, adult education and leadership training among Bolivians who had migrated from the country’s Andes mountains to the tropical lowlands. From 1978-1980, Sister Rita studied theology at the Catholic Theological Union, did community organizing and studied group and organizational processes with the National Training Institute.
In 1984, after the tragic deaths of her four team members in a flash flood, Sister Rita left Bolivia and returned to Maryknoll, NY to grieve and serve in the Congregational Personnel Department from 1985-1988. She then decided to continue her studies from 1988-1990 and attend San Jose State University in San Jose, CA where she earned a Master’s Degree in Social Work.
Shen then transferred to the Western U.S. Region and began working as a drug and alcohol counselor at the VA Palo Alto Health Care Center in Palo Alto, CA for three years and then as a Clinical Supervisor in a residential treatment center for addicts in Ontario, OR for ten years. In 2000, Sister Rita finished her work as Clinical Supervisor, but remained active as a member of the Board of Directors. She also remained very active with volunteer work in Ontario for years to come: From 2001-2004 she did private counseling with Hispanic women’s groups, from 2005-2006 she participated in women and parent groups at a Headstart Program, from 2007-2009 served as Clinical Supervisor in a Residential Treatment Program, Member of Board of Directors for Alcohol Recovery Program, Member of Oregon State wide Hispanic Program for Drug and Alcohol Treatment, member of a twelve step program, in 2010 did consult work with persons aiding others with drug and alcohol issues and from 2008 through the next several years provided counseling services at the State Men’s Prison and at the Four Rivers Clinic.
In 2020, Sister Rita returned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY to retire.
A Vespers service was held on June 6th, at 4:15 p.m. in the Chapel of the Annunciation at the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY.
A Mass of the Resurrection was celebrated on June 7th at 3:00 P.M., also at the Maryknoll Sisters Center.