Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
August 24, 2009
Sr. Rita Duncan: N.B. sister served in Alta. Schools and health care
SPECIAL TO THE WCR
SAINT JOHN, N.B. - Sister Rita Duncan touched countless lives in both western and eastern Canada as an educator, pastoral care leader and spiritual guide.
A Sister of Charity of the Immaculate Conception for almost 62 years, she died in hospital here July 21.
The youngest in a family of 11 children from Salisbury, N.B., she taught in rural New Brunswick before entering the SCIC in 1947. Two of her sisters, Helen and Teresa, also became members of the order.
After several more years of teaching, Sister Rita taught and served as principal in Wetaskiwin, Alta., from 1965-75.
Retiring from teaching, she served in pastoral care at a long-term care facility in Saint John for the mentally ill.
Studying in both Canada and the United States, she earned master's degrees in religious studies and in theology. She also obtained a certificate in spirituality and worship.
Sister Rita served in pastoral care at Edmonton General Hospital from 1984-88. In Vancouver, she became director of pastoral care at St. Vincent's Hospital from 1988-93.
In 1992, she gained public attention when she survived an attack by a man wielding a hatchet in an underground parking lot. She fought off and prayed aloud for the assailant.
An American TV station later flew her down for an interview for a program focusing on survivors of violent crime.
Sister Rita assisted many with emotional development, healing and spiritual growth. She was known for ministry among those experiencing grief and for commitment to ecumenical service and leadership in pastoral care.
She moved to the SCIC retirement home in Saint John in 2005. For years, she also accompanied and encouraged associates of the Sisters of Charity in a spirit of prayer, service and celebration.
Sister Rita died at age 81 after living with cancer for several years. She is survived by two sisters: Sister Teresa Duncan and Ethel Roy, both of Saint John. She also leaves many extended family members.
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