Sister Rudina (Rita) Klarer overcame an abundance of family deaths when she was still a girl, and her own near-death in the 8th grade. She learned to walk again in 1986 after a car accident that put her in the hospital for two months.
Looking back on 66 years as an Ursuline Sister of Mount Saint Joseph, Sister Rita believes her own trials prepared her to help those in greatest need. That included helping men who were incarcerated receive their GED, to supporting families devastated by the loss of a loved one, to visiting the sick and elderly.
“Without a doubt, the early tragedies I endured prepared me,” Sister Rita said from her room in Saint Joseph Villa at Maple Mount. “Good things come out of terrible things. I was just called to it. I’ve always felt like anything I’ve been given was a gift from God,” she said. “My favorite prayer is ‘Yes God.’”
“She is a steel magnolia,” said her friend Paula Duke, who lives in Kansas City. “She’s a southern gal, as sweet as can be, with the spiritual backbone as strong as steel. She’s independent, highly principled, amazingly gentle and very caring.”
“She is no ordinary person,” said Sister Judy Warmbold, a Daughter of Charity who lives in Gould, Ark. “She is uniquely gifted, deeply spiritual and extremely creative. If there’s a problem, she’ll find a way to fix it, if she has to go through the back door or out the roof.”
Sister Rita’s final public ministry was visiting the sick and elderly of St. Patrick Parish in Kansas City, Mo., which she did from 1999 until coming to the Mount in January 2011. Father Jerry Waris was the pastor at St. Patrick Parish.
“As frail and little as she was, she got around more places than anyone on the staff,” he said. “On Christmas and Easter, there were so many people who would have welcomed her, but she spent the whole day at North Kansas City Hospital visiting the sick. I know she thought that was one of the best days of the year.”
Her failing health brought her back to the Mount, where her journey as an Ursuline began in 1946. As with every challenge in her life, she is ready. “I’m trying to live every day as best as I can, accept whatever God wants, trying not to growl about it,” she said. “When I think about all the people without medical care, how could I complain?”