Sister Rita Therese
of the Sacred Heart (Hayden), O.C.D.
My heart overflows with joy and with Mary my soul magnifies the Lord. I praise and thank Him for calling me to be His spouse, a gift beyond measure! I recall telling Sister Josephine at the time that I was discerning that I felt unworthy of the call. She replied, “No one is worthy.” It is true, no one is worthy, it is purely a gift. 50 years seems like a long time, but honestly, I can hardly believe it has been 50 years since entering the convent. The story of my perseverance truly is more a story of His faithfulness and His grace, so I ask you to join me in thanking Him for the joy of this occasion. And it has been the witness and support of so many people I have known throughout my life who have been instruments of His grace – my family, friends, co-workers and some very holy priests and sisters. I thank God with my whole heart for the blessing each of you have been in my life’s journey. Be assured of my love and daily prayers for you and your intentions. May He give each of us the final grace of becoming the saints He is calling us to be so that we can all be united to celebrate the eternal jubilee with Him in heaven.
Get to know Sister:
Where did you grow up?
Fancy Farm, Kentucky.
In one word, how would you describe your time as a religious?
What drew you to Carmel?
The joy of the Sisters with whom I worked at Santa Teresita Hospital in Duarte, Ca. before entering.
What tips do you have for younger religious on how to persevere in their vocation?
From the very beginning of religious life I have felt that prayer is the most important aspect of my life. We know that prayer, according to the definition of St. Teresa of Avila, is “a conversation with the One who we know loves us.” Prayer is all about a personal relationship with God. To get to know someone we need to speak with them, especially one who has a spousal relationship. The same is true with God. That is what prayer is, a conversation with Him where we come to know Him, and in knowing Him, come to know ourselves.
For you personally, what does it mean to be a Carmelite?
Simply put, for me personally to be a Carmelite means living in His presence and bringing His presence and all that that means to others. I like the way St. Therese expressed it, “There is one ONLY THING to do here below: to love Jesus, to win souls for Him so that He may be loved.”