Rita is a Queens’ girl born in Flushing to Teresa and William McCauley. She attended Holy Family elementary school and Bishop McDonnell High School. Rita graduated from Brentwood College and earned her masters at St. John’s University. Rita was devoted to our community’s ministry of education. She served at St. Robert Bellarmine School, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, St. Ann, and for 37 years at St. Francis Prep.
Rita’s field was Social Studies. Her gifts to her students made history come alive. She always sought the “More” by updating constantly with courses, grants, workshops to make sure that she brought the best to her teaching. She contributed to the writing of chapters in several publications. She was also selected as part of a national team to study the Bill of Rights. Her students still recall her challenging lessons and projects both from elementary and high school. Upon hearing of her death, one of her students wrote” I’m saddened to read this. Sr. Rita was a superb teacher—running her Criminal Justice class the way a smart and impartial judge runs a case. I enjoyed arguing a case before her years before attending law school. Sr. Rita: Heaven is a much better place with you in it.
Her coworkers remember her as a valued colleague who mentored new teachers. She was one who really knew the students.
There are two terms that are often used interchangeably- teacher and educator. There are schools of thought on the distinction between those terms. Simply put- a teacher is one who teaches students in a school. An educator refers to a person who gives intellectual, moral, and social instructions. All educators are teachers- not all teachers are educators. I would suggest that Rita was a true educator. Rita brought the depth of her interest, compassion and intellectual competence to her students.
I speak of the compassion that Rita offered. Rita’s compassion was born of her own life’s experiences that led her to support others who were facing their own hardships.
Rita loved to travel and often the travel was with her good friend Gerry Craig. She was always seeking to add new experiences that would enrich her life and then the lives of her students.
Rita was generous in giving of her time. Over the years she was a lector, minister of Holy Communion, leader of discussion groups and a regular volunteer at Hampton Bays. Rita was a quiet presence, a woman of deep faith. If Rita were to read this description of her life or to hear people speak of her gifts- I can hear her saying- “Who me?” Yes, you Rita.
As Rita so often expressed gratitude to the congregation for all that it has meant to her so now we offer to her our gratitude for her life among us. We thank her for her faith, for her gifts and for her fidelity to the mission- that All may be one.
Sister Rita Maria McCauley died on January 18, 2019 in the 56th year of her religious life.