Sister Rita Ann (Mary Louis) Beaulieu, OSB, 85, died Saturday, April 23, 2011, in Benet Hall at St. Scholastica Monastery. Rita Ann was born in Duluth, Minnesota, on August 12, 1925, one of three children born to Anthony Beaulieu and Bertille (Melanson) Beaulieu. She attended St. Jean-Baptiste Elementary and High School, graduating in 1944. She was a member of St. Jean’s Sodality.
On January 7, 1947, Sister Rita Ann entered St. Scholastica Monastery and on July 9, 1947, was admitted to the novitiate, receiving the name, Sister Mary Louis. She professed her monastic vows July 11, 1948, and celebrated her Silver Jubilee August 15, 1973, her Golden Jubilee on July 11, 1998, and her Diamond Jubilee on August 3, 2008.
Sister Rita Ann’s first and longest ministry was housemother to the pre-school children at St. James Orphanage from 1948-1957. Many commented on the excellent work she did with this particular group of children.
After that she served in a variety of ministries at the Monastery, St. Mary’s Hospital, and St. Mary’s Convent, all in Duluth. Among these activities were being a Central Supply Aide at the hospital and a Teacher Aide at the United Day Activity Center for children with special needs and at the Monastery as Assistant Unit Manager on Benet Hall where she helped with activities. In 1991 she took care of the guest rooms at the Monastery and helped in the Priory store. In 1995 her ministry was visiting with the Sisters living on Benet Hall, and on January 8, 1998, she became a resident there where she remained until her death.
Perhaps one of the greatest assets for which Sister Rita Ann will be remembered was her gentle, radiant smile. The presider at her funeral Mass suggested the time she spent with the children at the orphanage had somehow imbedded itself in her heart and later extended itself into a hobby of collecting stuffed animals of all sizes and shapes to remind her of that happy time in her life. At the end of January, 1987, Sister Rita Ann wrote her own obituary, part of which read: Here lies Rita—a caring, loving, happy, compassionate, artistic, grateful person—who has achived her goal of seeing God, her close friend. She found God in everyone and everything. She was truly one of God’s “little ones.”
She was faithful not only to God but to the Sisters on Benet Hall and to her prayer life. She was very grateful for all that was done for her. She was grateful for friends, especially those few good friends who pointed out to her both her good qualities which helped her fulfill them, and her negative qualities which helped her know which ones to get rid of.
While on Benet Hall, she loved to play Bingo and was a very lucky player. As one Sister explained it, she was “a delightful person, full of fun.” Another activity she liked was recycling pop cans and flip tops.
Sister Rita Ann was preceded in death by her parents and her brothers Bill and Ed. In addition to the Sisters of St. Scholastica Monastery she is survived by several nieces and nephews and many friends.
A Wake service was held on Wednesday, May 4, in Our Lady Queen of Peace Chapel at 9:30 a.m. with visitation until 10:45. The Mass of Christian Burial followed at 11:00 in Our Lady Queen of Peace Chapel with Fr. Brian Schulz presiding. Interment was in Gethsemane Cemetery.
- Housemother—St. James Orphanage, Duluth, MN
- Central Suply Aide—St. Mary’s Hospital, Duluth, MN
- Teacher Aide—St. Mary’s Convent, Activity Center, Duluth, MN
- Assistant Unit Manager—Benet Hall, St. Scholastica Monastery, Duluth, MN
- Guest Rooms —St. Scholastica Monastery, Duluth, MN
- Visiting Sisters on Benet Hall—St. Scholastica Monastery, Duluth, MN