sister eileen smits (s. rita bernard)


March 23, 1935 – April 22, 2012

 Please pray for the repose of the soul of Sister Eileen Smits (S. Rita Bernard) who passed away on April 22 of cancer at Nazareth Living Center in St. Louis. She was 77 years old.

S. Eileen was born on March 23, 1935, in De Pere, Wis., to Joseph S. and Laura (Terrien) Smits. On Sept. 15, 1953, S. Eileen entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. She then made her final profession on August 15, 1961. She received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Fontbonne College in 1966 and a master’s in chemistry from the University of Kansas Lawrence in 1970.

In 1956, S. Eileen began her 58 years of service as a CSJ teaching in St. Louis at Our Lady of the Presentation Grade School (1956-1963) and St. Anthony of Padua Grade School (1963-1965). She moved north to Marquette, Mich., in 1965 and taught chemistry at Bishop Baraga High School. Three years later, she went on to obtain her master’s in chemistry at the University of Kansas – Lawrence.

S. Eileen returned to Missouri in 1970 and taught chemistry at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Florissant for four years and then at St. Teresa’s Academy in Kansas City for the next 12 years, where she was also plant manager (1980-1986). In 1986 she left teaching and became a staff worker for Sacred Heart parish in Kansas City.

Then, at the invitation of Don Carlos Gonzales, bishop of Talca, Chile, S. Eileen, along with S. Marie Sanders, S. Rose Haley and S. Margaret O’Rourke, moved to Chile in 1987. For the next 25 years, S. Eileen served the dear neighbor in Talca in pastoral ministry.

She returned to St. Louis just a few short weeks before going home to our Lord on April 22.

A Funeral Mass for S. Eileen will be on Saturday, April 28 at 10:00 a.m. at Nazareth Living Center, 2 Nazareth Lane, St. Louis, MO 63129. A Memorial Mass and burial will take place in Talca, Chile.

Memorial contributions may b e made to the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, St. Louis Province, 6400 Minnesota Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63111.  Donate on line.



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