Sister Rudina (Rita) Klarer turns a life of obstacles into an opportunity to serve

Sister Rita Klarer in summer 2012.


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.”

Sister Rita is an animal lover, and is pictured with her two dogs she once owned, Chimo and Maggie.

“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?”



  1. Teresa Weaver

    I knew Sr.Rita in her ministry at the Kansas City Correctional Center, or as it was known at one time the “Farm” since it was someone isolated. At that time I was a Probation and Parole Officer for the State of MO and on occasion had to visit a client who was in the “farm”. I also believe she worked at the Job Corp in Excelsior Springs, MO. I supervised young women who were placed there, this, when I worked for the State Of MO training school in Chillicothe, MO

  2. Sister Eileen Howard osu

    I lived with Sr. Rita on one of our first missions and I can say I never lived with a more talented and generous person. It was a blessing for me!….And now near the end of our earthly pilgrimage we are living together again in our beloved home of Maple Mount. Here again I witness her graced determination to make every moment count on her way to our heavenly home!

  3. Mary Madsen Pichler

    Dear Sister (Rudina) Rita,
    You were a “light” at Lourdes in Nebraska City – such passion and energy. We had no idea about your personal traumas. I’m blessed to receive this article at this time as I go through my own struggle with Multiple Sclerosis. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  4. Mary Madsen Pichler

    Dear Sr.(Rudina) Rita, I remember your “light” at Lourdes in Nebraska City – such passion and energy! We never knew about your traumas. I wish you a joyful life as you have given joy to so many. I send my thoughts and prayers.
    I still have the small address book you gave me for graduation in 1970. It is creased, worn and ragged – just like me!

  5. Pam Knudson

    Everyone here at St. Patrick Parish in Kansas City, MO love Sr. Rita Klarer. We always say she’s our Saint in our small part of the world. Sr. Rita has taught me so many things, and I can never thank her enough for all she has done for our Parish, and for each of us in our own personal ways!

  6. Lupe Clouse

    What a beautiful story of Sr. Rita’s life. Sr. Rita, Thank you for being the person God called you to be and so much more! I miss your presence and big smile at St. Pat’s. May God’s love, care, grace & peace continue to be with you always.

  7. Doug and Maria Eades

    Having Sr. Rita as a friend is one of God’s best blessings in our lives. She truly cares. She even took time from her busy schedule to visit our Mom and Dad in their last years. Sister, we miss you, we love you, we thank God for lending you to us for awhile. Thank you for everything you have done for us.

  8. Vincent & Santa Mary Galate

    Sister Rita,
    Has always found the termination, endurance and commitment to her community.
    Her sincere concern for animals.
    Along the way, she gave use one of her new Cockateels. She named him St. Anthony, later Sister Rita allowed me to rename him Louie, and continues to live with us these past 22 years.

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