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Issue: 1150 Date: 9/6/2012
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Sr. Rita Marie Schmitz celebrates 50 Years of being a CSJ at Fontbonne University

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Sr. Rita Marie Schmitz, CSJ, PhD, celebrated her Golden Jubilee of being a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet.
        By Isabella Liu

        Every academic year starts with a ceremony called Academic Convocation at Fontbonne University, a ceremony of inspiring speeches where new students are welcomed and old students are returned. The Mass of the Holy Spirit, a Catholic tradition, is celebrated following Academic Convocation. But unlike other celebrations, this Mass had a special guest of honor; Sr. Rita Marie Schmitz, CSJ, PhD, celebrated her Golden Jubilee of being a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. She renewed her vows in front of close family, friends and colleagues in Doerr Chapel, located directly on Fontbonne University's Campus.

        Initiated in 1961, Sister Rita celebrated 50 years of being a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet were established over 350 years ago in France just before the French Revolution, and were called to America to teach children with deafness and muteness in 1836. Sister Rita has been teaching at Fontbonne University in the Education and Special Education department for over 42 years, also chairing the department from 1980 to 1995. Her presence is integral to many institutions. She serves on the board of St. Joseph's Institute of the Deaf, the Carondelet Day Care center, and occasionally volunteers as an usher at the Fox Theatre. She also practices Tai Chi avidly, in the morning and between classes. For many students and staff, Sister Rita is an incredibly inspiring woman, the winner of many teaching recognition awards who is kind, caring and charismatic.

        Doerr Chapel saw many in attendance for the Mass of the Holy Spirit, a traditional Catholic celebration of calling the Holy Spirit to all students, faculty and staff to guide and protect. Organized by Fontbonne University's Campus Ministry, it is a traditional ceremony that annually follows Academic Convocation. Fr. Dale Wunderlich, a Rector at the Shrine of St. Joseph, presided over the celebration.

        Accompanied by the Liturgical Choir, the ceremony was bright, inspiring, and especially meaningful to Sister Rita, who danced to a song during the ceremony. For this mass, those involved in the Liturgical Choir were those who genuinely wanted to sing for Sister Rita. Comprised of a number of faculty and students (including the wife of President Dennis Golden, Monica Golden), singers practiced over two weeks under the direction of Jan Johnson of the Department of Communication Disorders. Sister Rita requested for several songs, including "Siyahamba (We Are Marching)" and the "Festival Alleluia" to be performed in her honor.

        Sister Rita thanked those who attended and all those who sang. It was an auspicious day indeed. All who attended agreed that the ceremony was beautiful, and felt spiritually uplifted and ready for the start of a new academic year.

 
(center of front row) Sr. Rita Marie Schmitz, CSJ, PhD, with Liturgical Choir which is headed by Jan Johnson (R1, 3rd row), Fontbonne University President Dr. Dennis Golden's wife Mrs. Monica Golden (R1, front row) and Isabella Liu (R3, front row).
 

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