Sister Rita Watkins

How did I, a little girl from North Dakota, arrive at the doorsteps of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon?

God led me in a subtle way. I didn’t know the Sisters until I was in fifth grade. We had moved to Oregon and I met the Sisters of St. Mary for the first time when my parents enrolled us in St. John’s School in Milwaukie. It still wasn’t until sixth grade when I had Sister Pulcharia as my teacher that I became acquainted with Sisters. Her compassion and kindness helped to bring this shy country girl out of herself.

In seventh grade, Sister Constance continued the work and I saw a different side of the Sisters as I helped decorate for the seventh and eighth grade dance. Even my dad commented that Sister loved her students and what she was doing. Sister Carmel in eighth grade was the one who asked me if I ever thought about becoming a Sister. My answer of “no” got me thinking and things snowballed from there.

I wanted to attend a Catholic high school and the only way I could do that was to come to St. Mary’s as an Aspirant (a girl interested in becoming a Sister). Arrangements were made with my parents and I started as a freshman at St. Mary of Valley High School (now Valley Catholic School). There I got to know more Sisters of St. Mary and grew to love their life. God continued calling me so when the time came, I took the next step and entered the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon.

My ministries over the last 50 years cover a variety of areas in education as a teacher, principal, and president of our schools on campus to service to our Community as Motherhouse Superior, Coordinator of Ministries, and on the Sisters’ Leadership Team.

I have loved all my ministries. I believe that I can go forward in whatever I am doing with God’s help. It has not always been easy, but God rewards me in the end. My motto, “Trust God, but do my part.” God is my potter molding me in the palm of His hand.