BRIDGETON, Mo. — Sr. Rita Clara Blau, a Franciscan Sister of Mary for 59 years and a licensed practical nurse, died Sunday morning, September 29, 2013, at The Sarah Community in Bridgeton, Mo. She was 82.
Rita Clara Blau was born on a farm near Plain, Wis., on October 27, 1930, one of ten children (seven girls, three boys) born to Joseph M. and Catherine (Alt) Blau. She completed 8th grade at St. Luke’s School.
She worked for St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison, Wis., for three years, then entered the Sisters of St. Mary (SSM) March 1, 1954. She received the name Sr. Miriam Catherine, and she professed final vows September 8, 1961. She resumed use of her baptismal name in the early 1980s. (In 1987 the Sisters of St. Mary reunited with the Sisters of St. Francis of Maryville, Mo., as the Franciscan Sisters of Mary.
She completed her secondary education at St. Mary of the Angels Convent, the last graduate of the convent high school; she earned her Licensed Practical Nursing certificate in 1962.
During her student years she served in the laundry at St. Mary’s Hospital in St. Louis. After her certification as an LPN, she served at St. Mary’s Ringling in Baraboo, Wis., as LPN supervisor (1963–1965) and charge nurse (1968–1973), and at St. Mary’s Infirmary in St. Louis as LPN charge nurse (1965–1968). She provided nursing care for elder sisters at the convent (1973–1975), at Mount St. Rose in St. Louis (1975–1976), and at Perpetual Help Home (1977–1978). She returned to Baraboo in 1978, serving as a nurse at St. Clare Hospital and St. Mary’s Ringling. She entered the pastoral care program at St. Francis in LaCrosse, Wis., in 1981, and in the early 1980s provided pastoral care and parish ministry for three parishes. She served as charge nurse at the Benedictine Convent (1985–1986), then as assistant to the community director at St. Mary of the Angels Convent for three years.
From 1991 through 2006 she cared for seniors at Cardinal Ritter Institute in St. Louis. She was a cook for the LaSalette Missionaries for two years, and for a year she provided home health care for seniors through CSJ Care in St. Louis. After retiring in 2006, she volunteered at the convent. She moved to The Sarah Community in August 2010.
Throughout her life Sr. Rita maintained a deep devotion to God and the Church. She was a strong member of the FSM intercessory prayer ministry.
She was preceded in death by her parents, four sisters and three brothers. She is survived by two sisters: Mrs. Katherine Hausner of Spring Green, Wis., and Mrs. Margaret Reeson of Mount Horeb, Wis., as well as many nieces, nephews, relatives and friends.
A Mass of Farewell was held at 1 p.m. Wednesday, October 2, 2013, in the chapel at The Sarah Community, 12284 DePaul Drive, Bridgeton, Mo., on the campus of SSM DePaul Health Center, with visitation from 12:30 to 1 p.m. preceding the Mass. Burial took place at Resurrection Cemetery in St. Louis immediately following the Mass of Farewell.