Mary Rita Kuhn, SSJ
Encouragement to do something special during Lent from her 10th-grade religion teacher led a young girl to attend daily Mass as often as she could. Today, Sr. Mary Rita Kuhn credits that prayer time and the examples set by the Sisters of St. Joseph to help her discern her call to religious life.
She entered the Sisters of St. Joseph from her home parish, St. Andrew’s in Erie in 1960 and professed her final vows in 1956.
She attended Villa Maria Academy and graduated from Villa Maria College in Erie with a BS in Elementary Education. She later earned a MA in teaching from Gannon University in Erie and furthered her studies in elementary and secondary education at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.
Sister Mary Rita taught at Villa Maria Elementary, Sacred Heart, St. Peter Cathedral and Our Lady of Peace Schools in Erie in addition to St. Francis School in Clearfield. She also served as Principal at Our Lady of Peace School and Our Lady’s Christian Schools in Erie and as Administrator of Villa Maria Academy. Sister Mary Rita was appointed Vicar for Religious by Bishop Michael J. Murphy in 1984, where she served until 2011.
Sister Mary Rita served on Saint Vincent Health System Board of Corporators, the Gannon University Board of Trustees, and the National Conference of Vicars for Religious.
Among the honors she has received are the Gannon University Distinguished Alumni Award, the Serra Club Outstanding Religious Award, and she received the Papal Cross pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, Pope Benedict XVI in 2008.
Sister Mary Rita volunteered for many years at Saint Vincent Hospital; currently, she is retired and resides at the Sisters of St. Joseph Community Living Center.