Dominican Sister of Peace Rita Imelda Sullivan

Dominican Sister of Peace Sr. Rita Imelda Sullivan

Dominican Sister of Peace Rita Imelda Sullivan (85) died at the Mohun Health Care Center in Columbus, OH, on January 5, 2020.

Sr. Rita Imelda was born in Somerville, MA, to Catherine Clark and Francis Sullivan. She entered the Congregation in 1953 and would have celebrated her 65th year of religious life in 2020.

Sr. Rita Imelda earned her Associate of Arts degree from St. Catharine College, and began her ministry as an elementary school teacher in West Virginia. But she felt called to a ministry in healthcare, and returned to study at the Saints Mary and Elizabeth School of Technology, where she gained certification as a Registered Medical Technician. She worked in the field for a decade, then earned her Bachelor of Science in Medical Technology/Biology from Spaulding College in Louisville, KY.

Sr. Rita Imelda went on to become a member of the National Registry of Medical Technologists and served as a medical professional and instructor in Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Tennessee.

Sr. Rita Imelda was a dedicated medical professional, but she also knew the importance of healing the souls of the sick and suffering. She earned her Chaplain Certificate at the National Association of Catholic Chaplains in 1991 and served as a Chaplain in Louisiana and Tennessee. She brought this ministry to the Sisters in her Community as well, serving as a Chaplain at Rosary Manor in Watertown, MA. She also served the Congregation as the Caretaker at Rosary Manor, and volunteered at the Dominican Academy in New York City.

Sr. Rita Imelda was a true itinerant Dominican, always willing to go where the work needed to be done, always ready for a new adventure in her ministry to God and the Church.

Sr. Rita Imelda Sullivan was preceded in death by her parents Francis and Catherine Clark Sullivan, her sister, Margaret Wenger, and her brother, Dr. Philip Sullivan. She is survived by her sister, Frances Reinfrank.

A Vigil of Remembrance Service was held on January 14, 2020, at the Dominican Sisters of Peace Motherhouse Chapel in Columbus, OH. The funeral liturgy was held at the Dominican Sisters of Peace Motherhouse Chapel on Wednesday, January 15, followed by burial at St. Joseph Cemetery by Egan Ryan Funeral Home.

Memorial gifts in Sister Rita Imelda’s memory may be sent to the Dominican Sisters of Peace, Office of Mission Advancement, 2320 Airport Drive, Columbus, OH, 43219.

To donate in Sr.Rita Imelda’s memory, please click here.


To download a printable copy of this memorial, please click here.

Posted in News, Obituaries

Who is the Stranger at the Gate?

Sr. Barb Kane shares this interview with Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, the Executive Director of Catholic Charities in New York City, to help us better understand the Church’s call to welcome immigrants.

Jesus taught us to see Him in the displaced. Can we find the courage to let Him in? 

It’s impossible to ignore the heated rhetoric currently surrounding the issue of immigration and refugees in America – and the heartbreaking news of human suffering at our borders. We sat down with Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, executive director of Catholic Charities of New York, to discuss how Catholic values can guide us.

Illustration by Vinny Bove

Archways: The Old Testament tells us to be kind to the displaced. Jesus, in Matthew 35, says that when we treat a stranger kindly or cruelly, we are doing the same to Him. How can we apply these teachings to the current crisis? 

Msgr. Sullivan: The biblical teachings speak to our attitudes as religious people. We should be welcoming and hospitable to those who are different than ourselves, from different places. At the same time, there’s a need to be very careful. You can’t find in either the Old or the New Testament a prescription as to what the immigration laws, rules and regulations should be in every situation and in every nation. That’s not what the Bible is about. However, our Christian values need to be applied in the way we treat those who are coming to our country for refuge, those who are fleeing violence and extortion and even those simply seeking a better life for their families.

AW: What would you say to Americans (including Catholics) who are afraid or angry about the tide of immigrants and asylum seekers – and want to send them back?

Msgr. Sullivan: From a Catholic perspective, we believe in secure borders. We believe in legal immigration. We don’t encourage people to illegally immigrate. At the same time, we recognize the right of people who are fleeing for their lives – persecution, extortion, violence – to seek refuge in another place. I have visited the Northern Triangle – Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras – where most of the families are currently coming from, and I can tell you that they really don’t want to come. They feel that they have to come for the sake of their lives and their families. Those who seek refuge in our country should be given a fair hearing to make their case.

It is discouraging, at a time when the world has about 25 million refugees – possibly the largest number since World War II – that the United States is decreasing the number of refugees we accept. We can’t take every single refugee in the world. But the fact that we are decreasing the number says that we are going in the wrong direction.

AW: Why should Americans have to take care of people from countries that are dysfunctional? Shouldn’t those people stay at home and fix their own dysfunctional countries?

Msgr. Sullivan: As Catholics, we probably have a broader perspective on migration than others, because we are a religion that is in every country. Our Christianity is not based on a race or ethnicity, but on faith. Our belief is that people in every country, in every land, are made in God’s image and likeness. We believe that people should not be forced to flee their own country, and that we should try to develop the safety, the economy, the educational systems of other countries so that people there can find decent jobs, can be educated, can feel safe. We believe both in a generous and welcoming immigration policy and in assistance in countries that are problematic, where there is corruption, where there aren’t sufficient jobs. That’s part of our Catholic global belief and solidarity.

AW: Critics charge that charitable organizations are promoting unlawful behavior by helping people who are in the country illegally. Is Catholic Charities helping people to break the law?

Msgr. Sullivan: Catholic Charities is following the mandate of Jesus to make sure that basic necessities of food, of shelter, are available to everybody. We don’t encourage illegal immigration. If a person is in our country without the right documents, we still believe they have basic human rights. We work very hard to see if there is a way that they can get the right documents and remedy their situation so that they can come out of the shadows and live a fuller life here.

  • AW: How can the average Catholic help immigrants and asylum seekers?

    Sullivan: The most important thing that we can do as people of the United States is to speak respectfully of one another and of immigrants and refugees and work toward creating a society in which everybody’s rights are respected. Beyond that, there are many ways that immigrants can be helped. In Catholic Charities we do English-as-a-second-language programs. So people who want to volunteer there can come to our website and learn to be conversation partners with immigrants. We also have immigration rights work-shops, and we do a help desk at immigration court.

    AW: How does it benefit us – spiritually and otherwise – to help immigrants and asylum seekers?

    Msgr. Sullivan: It benefits us in two ways. In an altruistic way, we are following the mandate of Jesus Christ to welcome the stranger. The Old Testament says it in a way that is very eloquent: Remember you were once aliens in a foreign land, so treat the resident alien as you would be treated yourself. Jesus says, if you welcome a stranger, you welcome Me.

    From a more self-serving point of view: This nation is arguably the most economically advanced in the world. Again, arguably, we are the most diverse nation in the world. This is a country that continues to welcome immigrants. I think if you put two and two together, you come to the conclusion that immigrants make our country a better place. It really is in the self-interest of the United States to welcome immigrants and those who seek refuge here, because they make our nation stronger.

    AW: What would it look like if this problem were solved? Can it be solved?

    Msgr. Sullivan: Our current immigration crisis is at the border and beyond the border. We do need to deal with the surge of migrants who are at the border in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California. But we also need to deal with the countries that are sending them; we have to enhance our collaboration with those countries – with governments, church organizations, nonprofits – so that the conditions there can be improved. Those conditions are driving the crisis at the border.

    At home, we need to update our immigration system. From our Catholic perspective, the values are really simple, although our politics can’t figure out how to get it done. We need secure borders. We need a policy of legal, generous and fair immigration that respects and fosters the unity of families. It’s got to make a provision for decent employment, on a temporary or permanent basis, in our industries that need those immigrants as workers. And we need to figure out a way for those who are here without the right papers – 10, 12 million – to earn their way out of the shadows and become fully part of the United States.

    The blueprint for comprehensive reform is there. We just don’t have the political will to do it. For starters, as I say, every individual can do their part by speaking more respectfully, more decently, not scapegoating people. That will create a context in which we can work together to implement policies that reflect the best of our American values and our Judeo-Christian values.


Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

Justice Updates – January 21, 2020

Check out this resource from the Eco Justice Committee.  We all need a gentle reminder to GO GREEN this winter!

Do you know what cosmology is?  In this article from Global Sisters Report, Lorraine Villemaire, a Sister of St. Joseph of Springfield,  writes that in spite of the climate damage we see, “there actually is hope. Great efforts are being made today by governments and organizations to engage in system-based actions to save Earth. Technology and science are collaborating to provide facts on problems, to help play a role in transformation. However, individuals created Earth’s problems and individual conversion is needed to correct it.

Need a dose of beauty?  Listen to this 13-minute concert by amazing harpist Bridget Kibbey.

What’s happening to the working poor? Read Who Killed the Knapp Family where many working-class people are dying of despair.

Food waste is a huge problem in the United States. The good news: Each of us can help solve it. Here’s how.

What does Catholic Social Teaching teach about migrants?  Louisville Bishop Joseph Kurtz writes “We know that the Church at her best has always been a church that welcomes and accompanies others… The capacity of rich and powerful nations like the United States to welcome refugees and immigrants also is a serious responsibility. Read more from his teaching essay.

As the only major denomination with almost equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats, the Catholic Church is in a unique position to respond to today’s toxic politics. Thomas Reese explains “Four Catholic Solutions to Toxic Politics.

Just Mercy” is not a film about a man. It is about a movement to heal the wounds of racism and hatred. More than knowing his name, Bryan wants people to know the names of the 4,000 African Americans lynched as victims of racial terror and too often forgotten — people like Mary Turner, who was eight months pregnant when she was hung upside down by a white mob, set on fire and even cut open so her baby could be stomped to death.

Click here to download a study guide to the movie from Catholics Mobilizing.

DACA Recipients are being deported. What will happen to the rest of them?

Douglas Cremer writes in the Church Needs to Listen to Catholic Feminists, “many think we in the church should not bother ourselves with issues of gender, race, and power, that these questions are a modern preoccupation driven by secularism, the sexual revolution and identity politics. Yet the question of who identifies with whom has always been a critical question, as have questions of race/ethnicity, class, and gender, going as far back as Paul’s famous quote in Galatians: “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” The claim that these divisions are overcome in Christ Jesus signifies both that they are deeply important distinctions and that as the followers of Jesus Christ we must struggle to make the overcoming of these distinctions real.”


Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

Reign Storm

Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, OP

With so much wildfire destruction in Australia, it’s difficult to imagine the scope of the damage. Think about the entire East Coast of the USA in flames. We have been asked to pray for rain there. I hope you have been praying too. It feels almost primitive to me, as when the ancient Navajo chief prayed for rain on the dried up grassy plains.  So basic. So practical. So urgent.  It reminded me of a poem I wrote on retreat some years ago that still captures my spirit.  This is what I hope for in Australia:

Reign Storm

I am soaked through
Like the torrents of rain that take over the air
Making everything seem as if it was all made of water.

Drenching, generous,
swimming in mid-air
With the sound of applause from the rain.
An ovation.
An ocean in the sky.
The trees standing with heads bowed
Limbs long and still
Rain running off their fingertips
And roaring on the roof

Our God reigns.

God does indeed reign, even though, in America, we are not attracted to the reign of kings. We fought a war of independence against a king, so we certainly don’t need one now.  More to the point, God reigns as the Word which rains down on us all the time.   Consider this passage from Isaiah 55:10-11:

Yet just as from the heavens
the rain and snow come down
And do not return there
till they have watered the earth,
making it fertile and fruitful,
Giving seed to the one who sows
and bread to the one who eats,
So shall my word be
that goes forth from my mouth;
It shall not return to me empty,
but shall do what pleases me,
achieving the end for which I sent it.

If we truly believe this scripture, –that the Word of God is as present to us and as drenching on us as rain– then we can ask for help, indeed sometimes plead for help in any situation.  At times, if you are feeling a little desperate, it is not a bad thing. Faith is tied to our feelings, to our desires for good, to our hopes for ourselves and our hopes for the world.  The Word of God goes forth and does not return empty. Listen for it in the rain, in the wind, in the heart of another person. Look at in the puddle in the street. The Word reigns, pervades all things, sustains every creature, every living thing is held in place because the Word of God goes forth. Sometimes other storms take over our attention and we can be overwhelmed by events in our own homes, our country, our world.  God’s Word is a reign storm, it waters the earth, making it fertile, giving seed to those who sow, bread to those who eat.  We believe it, even when we cannot see it.

My prayer today is that God’s reign will be more evident, that I will see it more clearly and that my prayers for the people and country of Australia will be answered soon. May rain come, may God’s reign come.  Amen

Posted in Weekly Word

Gifts to be Explored and Embraced

Blog by Sr. Mai Dung Nguyen

January 15, 2000 was the day I officially moved in to live with a group of religious sisters. Twenty years of living in religious life have brought me so many memorial blessings. One of them was the question: “What are your gifts, and how do you contribute your gifts to the congregation mission?”

“Gifts? Dominican mission?” I pondered why I needed to name my gifts/talents.

My Vietnamese culture does not encourage us to focus on gifts or talents because these can make us haughty.  Instead, my culture emphasizes self-improvement from personal weaknesses. So, I did not feel comfortable naming my gifts. Thank God though for the gift of community. Sisters have been walking with me to help me name my gifts without feeling uncomfortable. I began to explore, accept, and embrace the gifts God has given to me. I realize that acknowledging or naming personal gifts is not enough.  My gifts are intended to be used to praise God and for God’s mission, which requires time, reflection, patience, trust, faith, courage, investigation, and practice.

I’ve learned that prayer is also a gift and that there are many ways to pray.  Before I entered religious life, the praying styles I was familiar with were Mass, rosary, and adoration. I had the contemplating and reflecting gifts, but I was not aware of them. I spent an hour at church or at home praying. Yet, I did not recognize God during my day, even after I learned that God is everywhere. Later, I found out there were many ways to be with God and many ways God approaches me, including through meditation, contemplation, silence, and interaction.

The call to religious life is also a gift from God. As I keep exploring the meaning of this life, integrating and moving forward with what I learn and practicing my faith, then this life will be a transformative and embracing one filled with love, vision, compassion, and peace. Living this life is like the growth of a seed, similar to what Jesus said; “Still others are like the seeds sown on good soil. They hear the word, receive it, and produce a crop—thirtyfold, sixtyfold, or a hundredfold.” (Mark 4:20)

Gifts or calls or ministry are given for us to love, embrace, integrate, practice, and share. By authentically recognizing our gifts and valuing the gifts of others, we can build a more peace-filled world.  May our gifts shine forth. For Jesus said “Does anyone bring in a lamp so he can place it under a basket or a bed? Doesn’t he set it on a lampstand? (Mark 4:21).  Let us pray that more women will recognize that their gifts can be used in service to God so that religious life flourishes.

Contact us if you want to explore what God is calling you to be. We invite you to attend our Come and See Retreat weekend (March 13-15, Columbus, Ohio) with the theme “Show Me the Way: Discerning a Call to Religious Life.” Come to explore and embrace your gifts!


Posted in God Calling?, News