Sister Rita Adams, formerly Sister Ann Christopher, entered religious life from the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament parish in Altoona, Pa. She credits her parents for giving her a strong foundation for her religious development. Attending a Catholic grade school and high school and being taught by Sisters (Sisters of Charity in grade school and Divine Providence in high school) offered continuing support in her decision to become a Sister.
Sister Rita earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Duquesne University and a master’s degree in education from Shippensburg College. She taught at St. Rose of Lima in Altoona (1973–83), St. Mary’s in Glenshaw (1983–84), St. Anne’s in Castle Shannon (1984–86), and she was principal at St. Peter’s on the North Side of Pittsburgh (1987–96) and Providence Heights Alpha School (1996–2002).
Presently, she is director of the Providence Institute at La Roche College. She has been with the College since 2003. The Providence Institute helps students who struggled with academics in high school to realize their full potential and educational goals at La Roche and beyond. Students in the program receive individualized attention from peer counselors, tutors, and staff in the Office of Student Academic Support Services. As director, Sister Rita interviews all candidates who are being considered for acceptance into the program, and their parents or guardians. Once students are enrolled in the program, she monitors their academic progress and meets with them on an individual basis once a week during each semester.
When reflecting on the charism of the Community and what it means to her daily life, Sister Rita cites gathering with other Sisters as Community and beginning to pray with the words, “We exalt your Providence, O God, and we commit ourselves to making your Providence more visible in our world.” Sister Rita is reminded that the word commit means she must make every effort each day to contribute, promote, and share God’s everlasting love and care for everyone. “Each day, as I work with students, I realize how important it is to share God’s loving compassion. ...God’s Providence becomes more and more visible to me each day as I work with students who are given an opportunity to achieve their potential as individuals in an educational setting that may not have otherwise been possible," she said. Sister Rita loves to watch the students who doubted life's possibilities achieve their goals. She says, "Providence comes alive when I see the students begin to realize they can give back to La Roche College as well as receive from La Roche College. And Providence is made more alive for me every day when I think of the Sisters of Divine Providence whose shoulders I stand on and who have made God’s Providence possible for La Roche College for more than 50 years."
During the time of her Jubilee celebration and reflection, Sister Rita is reminded of an event that took place in her family 25 years ago. Her parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, and their only request was to have a Mass in their home, at which they renewed their vows. “My father turned to our family and said, ‘When I married your mother, I thought I loved her, but today I know I love her.’ I have never forgotten those words in reference to my own call to religious life,” says Sister Rita.
Describing herself as “compassionate, trustworthy, and responsible,” Sister Rita enjoys reading and collecting sports trading cards (baseball, hockey, and football). Her convent Sisters count on her as their resident “house repairer and expert laundry spot remover.”