Obituary | Sr. Rita Flaherty, CSJ

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Sr. Flaherty

A funeral Mass for Sister Rita (Marie Edouarda) Flaherty, CSJ, was celebrated July 25 at Nazareth Living Center Chapel. Sister Rita died July 19 at St. Clare Hospital in Fenton. She was 97, had been a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet for 78 years and taught at the grade school, high school and college levels.

Born in 1919 in Kansas City, Mo., she didn't come into the world in the usual way; she was born in a taxicab. That night, the front doorbell rang at St. Joseph Hospital and a frantic cab driver informed Sister Magdalita Thilbault, CSJ, that, "I have a lady in my cab and I can hear the baby already!" The mother and baby were taken to the maternity ward, but the baby was blue, so Sister Magdalita took her to the nearest water fountain and baptized her. The baby was in good hands from the start and was officially baptized three weeks later.

Sister Rita figured that from her first moments of life she was called to be a Sister of St. Joseph, with a Sister of St. Joseph baptizing her at St. Joseph Hospital. Later, the Sisters of St. Joseph taught her at St. Elizabeth School, and she entered the community in 1938. She received the habit and name Sister Marie Edourada in 1939, then made final profession in 1944. She earned a bachelor's in mathematics from Fontbonne College in 1946 and a master's in mathematics from St. Louis University in 1951.

In the Archdiocese of St. Louis, she taught at Most Holy Rosary Grade School (1941-45), St. Leo Grade School (1945-46), St. Louis Cathedral Grade School (1946-51) and Rosati-Kain High School (1963-68). She also taught in Colorado, Texas and the Kansas City area and served as a hospital administrator in Kansas City. In 1994, she started a 10-year stint as hospitality coordinator at Nazareth Living Center, then retired to the Jeanne Fontbonne Community in 2004. Since 2006, she had served in a ministry of prayer and presence at Nazareth.

Sister Rita is survived by a brother, Jesuit Father Edward Flaherty. 

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