Sister Rita Josephine Kane, MM, an educator, social worker, and counselor from Sterling, IL, has been a Maryknoll Sister for over 70 years.
Sister Rita entered Maryknoll at its motherhouse in Ossining, NY, in 1944 from St. Mary’s Parish, Sterling, and made her final vows on March 7, 1950, at the motherhouse. A 1950 graduate of Maryknoll Teachers College, Maryknoll, NY with a bachelor’s degree in education, Sister Rita later studied pastoral ministry at Trinity College, Washington, DC, and spiritual direction and retreat work at the Spiritual Life Center, Honolulu, HI.
Given the religious name Sister Maura Charles, Sister Rita’s first assignment was teaching second grade at Transfiguration School in New York City’s Chinatown from 1949-1950. She was then sent to Hawaii, where she taught fourth grade in Kahili from 1950-1952 and in Wailuku from 1952-1953. The need of neglected children in Paia called to her later in 1953, and she spent the next 12 years caring for them, learning social work simply by becoming immersed in it.
Next, she served as the congregation’s Hawaii Regional Mission Planning and Program in Punahou from 1965-1970, taking courses in sociology and counseling at the University of Hawaii, at the same time. These courses served her well in her next ministry as a probation officer with Family Court for the State of Hawaii, working with juvenile offenders from 1970-1979. She also served on the Hawaii Regional Governing Board for the congregation from 1979-1982.
Sister Rita then heard and answered the cry of battered women and children, becoming a counselor at a shelter for abused spouses and children in Honolulu from 1980-1985, and providing counseling to abusive men in Nanakuli from 1988-1992. During this same period she served as a member of the
Regional Governing Board for the congregation’s Central Pacific Region and a delegate to the 1984 General Assembly.
From 1994 – 2007 Sister Rita was very active in literacy programs, English tutoring, prison ministry, visits to the sick and bringing communion to the homebound in Nanakuli. She also formed groups of ex-prisoners who, with their families, meet periodically as support, to celebrate life and help each other, and was lector and Eucharistic Minister at the parish, often substituting for the priest in holding communion services, when he was not available. Now formally retired, Sister Rita is actively involved in Pax Christi; Center Cerns, the congregation’s in-house justice and peace group; and serves as a lector for Masses held at the Center. Her prayer ministry is Haiti.