Biographies

Sister Mary Rita Bodkin, MM

Born: August 3, 1887
Entered: June 7, 1918
Died: January 29, 1963

This will bring you the somewhat expected news that this morning, just towards the end of Mass, Sister Mary Rita very quietly passed away, in our Bethany Infirmary.

Sister Mary Rita (Elizabeth Marie Bodkin), was born in Roscommon, Ireland on August 3, 1887. Sister completed a National School course in her native town and came to New York in 1905, at the age of eighteen. During the summer of 1912, she returned to Ireland for a visit with her mother and family. She was a parishioner of Holy Trinity Church in New York City and spent several years in caring for children. She was living in Jersey City in 1918, at the time she entered Maryknoll. Sister received the Habit on December 8, 1918, and made her first profession on February 15, 1921, one of the thirty-nine in the first profession group. Her first mission assignment was to Los Angeles on July 21, 1921. During the following years, Sister was assigned to the following houses – Seattle, Bethany, Venard and Mt. View. In 1943, she became very ill in Seattle and was returned to the Motherhouse Infirmary. From that time on Sister’s health was frail, but she recovered sufficiently to make a visit to her native Ireland in 1947. This reunion with her brother and other members of her family, after thirty-five years, brought Sister much joy. In February 1958 Sister her health severely declined. Since that time she had been confined to bed, a very patient, prayerful sufferer.

Sister, who was assigned to pray for the missions in Hawaii a few years ago, was extremely faithful to her prayer assignment. The Sisters in Hawaii have a very powerful advocate in Sister Mary Rita.

Sister’s apostolate consisted mostly of years of kitchen work, with some catechetical work and hospital visitation. Her cheerful spirit and delightful sense of humor helped much to sustain in each convent, the happy atmosphere in which the Maryknoll family spirit thrives.

Sister realized that she was growing weaker and thought it likely that Our Lord night come for her before the end of the retreat on February 2, so she said goodbye to the Sisters who were coming to the Motherhouse and checked to see that her habit and all things were ready. Her waking hours these last days were a long litany of loving prayers. She eagerly looked forward to going “home”, and went with great love and joy.

Sister’s Requiem Mass will be sung at Bethany, Thursday, January 31, at 11:00am. May she rest in peace!