Sister Rita Ann Wade (formerly Sister Rose Annette)
“Providence inspired me, sustained me and will always care for me.” These words, written by Sister Rita Ann Wade for her Golden Jubilee in 1998, beautifully express the way she lived her life, always in the light of Providence, said Sister Barbara McClelland in her commentary for Sister Rita Ann Wade, formerly Sister Rose Annette, who passed away on Friday, May 13, 2022, in Indianapolis. She was 92 years old and had been a Sister of Providence for 74 years.
Sister Barbara continued: Born in Indianapolis, the first of three children, on April 22, 1930, to Anna McHugh Wade and James D. Wade, Rita grew up in a happy, Irish family. Rita’s mother was a homemaker, her dad a firefighter, and for many years a Fire Chief. From the example of her parents, she learned early in life the value of serving others. Her younger brothers, Jim and Joe, were her beloved siblings. Always the big sister, Rita loved them and had a great impact on their early development. Jim was two years younger than Rita, so the two of them grew up together and shared many happy memories. Joe, however, didn’t appear on the scene until Rita was 8 years old, the perfect age for a little girl to have a baby brother! Joe became her darling, a description that never left him. Before Rita slipped into her constant state of sleep, she asked us to look out for her “darling Joe.” The last words that Rita spoke were to him. During that final week, when told that Joe had arrived in the room, she roused herself, raised her hand in greeting and said, “Hi, Honey,” to him. Darling Joe now has us, Rita’s Sisters, to remind him of how much he continues to be loved by his big sister!
All of the Wade children were baptized at Saint Joan of Arc Church, where they later attended grade school. They grew up in a very strong, close-knit neighborhood, out of which came several Sisters of Providence. One of my own claims to fame was that Rita was my babysitter. She reminded me frequently that I was the red-headed 2-year-old who had a mind of her own as I corralled my scooter down the street.
Rita was very influenced by a priest at Saint Joan of Arc, Father Lynch. He recognized God’s invitation to Rita to give herself totally as a Sister and encouraged her desire to attend high school at our Juniorate here at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. Although she was sad to leave her family, she loved her high school days! Her classmates became very close to one another and maintained their “aspirancy bond,” throughout their lives.
Rita’s parents, her dear brother Jim, his wife Margaret, and Rita’s very special friend, Joan Newell, all preceded her in death. I’m certain they had a grand Irish celebration on May 13 when they were able to welcome her home!
Rita entered the Community on January 7, 1948. As a novice, she took the religious name of Sister Rose Annette and officially began her life-long adventure of being a Sister of Providence! She grew even deeper in love with our Provident God and in admiration and friendship with Mother Theodore.
Rita taught and/or was principal in schools in Indiana, Illinois and Washington, D.C. True to Mother Theodore’s direction, she loved her students! Rita maintained connections and became friends with many of them. The current board president of Miracle Place, Tim Falvey, is one of them. When introduced to prospective donors, Tim always proudly proclaims that Sister Rita was his fifth-grade teacher at Holy Cross!
With her great gifts of compassion, her ability to listen and her total presence to others, it was natural for Rita to be drawn by Providence to chaplaincy. After finishing a CPE program in Louisville in 1977, Rita secured a position as chaplain at St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis, where she ministered for 22 years. There, she made a deep and significant impact on the lives of countless people: Patients, families, associates and volunteers. To Rita, every person deserved her full attention and care. So many stories of her tender concern at St. Vincent’s have surfaced. People remember and cherish their encounters with her all these years later. Rita was a natural in that position!
In 2000, she and Sister Barbara McClelland founded Miracle Place, a ministry of outreach and hospitality on the near eastside of Indianapolis. Miracle Place was immediately put under the patronage of Mother Theodore. Her presence was felt when the neighborhood association planted trees on the street. The one planted in front of Miracle Place was a Linden tree.
The ministry of Miracle Place was well suited for Rita’s gifts. In God’s Providence, her courage, persistence and compassion combined to create a place of relationship, acceptance and dignity. Because of Rita’s vision, the persons involved with Miracle Place in any capacity have become like a family, where people are loved, not judged.
Sister Rita Wade will be deeply missed by all of us who have had the privilege of knowing her. As one of our former “Miracle Place Kids” expressed, “Sister Rita was always so kind, so very kind. Maybe we can all try to be a little kinder each day to keep her spirit alive in our world.”
Providence truly did inspire Rita, sustain her and will care for her always. And we thank you, Rita, for living your life as a Woman of Providence so wholeheartedly.
Funeral services took place in Indianapolis at St. Joan of Arc Church on Monday, May 16. The wake was from 10 a.m.-noon, followed by the funeral liturgy. Father Jim Farrell will preside.
A Mass of Christian burial took place at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods on Wednesday, May 25, in the Church of the Immaculate Conception.
A Wake took place at 10 a.m., followed by Mass of Christian Burial at 11 a.m.
Memorial contributions may be made in honor of Sister Rita Ann to the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.
We welcome you to share your memories of Sister Rita Ann in the comment section below.
Sister Rita Ann Wade (formerly Sister Rose Annette)
In Illinois: Teacher, St. Angela, Chicago (1950-55); Teacher, Sacred Heart, Lockport (1957-62).
In Indiana: Teacher, Nativity, Indianapolis (1955-57); Teacher, Holy Cross, Indianapolis (1964-66); Teacher, Cathedral, Fort Wayne (1966-67); Teacher/Principal, Cathedral, Fort Wayne (1967-69); Teacher, Holy Cross, Indianapolis (1969-71); Teacher, St. Luke, Indianapolis (1971-73); Teacher, St. Luke, Indianapolis (1973-76); Chaplain/Pastoral Care Department, St. Vincent Hospital, Indianapolis (1977-99); Co-Director, Miracle Place, Indianapolis (1999-2022).
In Washington, D.C.: Teacher, St. Ann (1962-64).
In Kentucky: CPE, University of Louisville Hospital, Louisville (1976-77).
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I remember Sister Rita Ann as Sister Rose Annette. She was teaching 1st grade at St. Angela’s and I was in love with her! I thought she was the most beautiful sister…she let me help her after school and I was smitten! She was so kind to this little primary grade child. Rest in peace, Sister!
Sr. Rita Ann was the kindest and sweetest person I have ever met. She always had a smile on her face and the light of Christ emanated from her eyes. She and Sr. Barbara were always together and you never saw one without the other. I shall miss her dearly. I will keep Sr. Barbara and all the Sisters of Providence in my prayers. Eternal rest Sr. Rita Ann, good and most faithful servant.
I fondly remember Sister Rita from St. Vincent Hospital where I worked as a nurse. She always had her smile and was so gracious to talk with. God truly received another angel with Sr. Rita.