No matter the ministry, Sister Rita Faust, SDS (formerly Sr. Frederick) gave her whole self. Assigned to direct a non-existent pastoral care department at Tekakwitha Nursing Home in Sisseton, South Dakota, she developed her own. She gathered the residents for Bible study, spent many hours with the dying, and conducted memorial services for the deceased residents. On some Sunday afternoons, she planned and led a prayer service in the chapel. Within the Sisseton community, she reached out to the elderly who lived alone or in low-income housing. She stated, “My pastoral care was sharing with the poor and lonely in the spirit of the Savior.”
When it came time to leave Sisseton, Sr. Rita stated, “Whenever I go from a place, I go empty, because I leave something of myself; and I go full, because I take something of that place with me. For those who stay, and for me who will go, let the leave-taking fill all of us with glad-hearted gratefulness. Let us be gift to each other even when we are miles apart.”
Sr. Rita was born on March 17, 1924, in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. One of 14 children born to Adam and Mary (Dorn) Faust, she assisted with the care of her siblings at a young age. Her extended family was very religious. She had an uncle, Fr. Frederick Dorn, SDS, three aunts and six cousins who were sisters, and two siblings who became Sisters of the Divine Savior – Sisters Phyllis and Georgene Faust.
She attended Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic School in Kiel, Wisconsin. At the age of 15, she entered the Congregation on August 12, 1939, and was received into the novitiate on August 12, 1940, receiving the religious name Frederick. Sister Rita pronounced her first vows on August 13, 1941, and her final vows on August 13, 1947.
Sister Rita received her secondary education at Divine Savior Convent High School. She received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, history, and English from Mount Mary College.
Wisconsin schools in Milwaukee, Bloomer, Dickeyville, and Rothschild, as well as Huntsville, Alabama, benefited from Sr. Rita’s teaching for over 30 years. She ministered in Rothschild for a total of 17 years, during which time, she served as teacher, principal, and Director of Religious Education (DRE). To prepare herself for her new position as DRE, she studied at St. Catherine’s College in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Throughout her many years of ministry, Sr. Rita made sure to stay up to date. She attended innumerable workshops, classes, seminars, always learning something that would make her a more effective minister.
Following her time in Sisseton, Sr. Rita began a new ministry with senior Salvatorian Sisters. She reflected, “Years ago I was in mission with some of these senior Sisters. We have all grown older. I hope and pray to visit, pray and share their happy and sad times. I love the Sisters’ true Salvatorian spirit of prayer and sacrifice, and above all their thoughtfulness in helping those Sisters who are in greater need than they themselves.”
In 1997, Sister Rita relocated to St. Nazianz, Wisconsin to be the Assistant Coordinator at St. Mary’s Convent where senior Sisters lived. This ministry continued until a windstorm in 2002 severely damaged the convent and all the senior Sisters needed to relocate to Milwaukee. Sr. Rita, along with Sister Jane Barman, Coordinator of St. Mary Convent, moved to an apartment in St. Nazianz.
Still filled with energy for the Mission, she became involved in volunteer ministry. She tutored at St. Gregory School, served as a Eucharistic minister, assisted in the parish pantry, counted the weekend collection for the parish, helped at the Salvatorian Mission Warehouse and delivered Meals on Wheels with Sr. Jane Barman as the driver. She also took time to relax by taking art and exercise classes, going on bus trips offered by the Senior Center in Manitowoc, crocheting mittens and scarves, making greeting cards, tatting, reading, doing jigsaw puzzles, and supporting the Green Bay Packers.
In 2016, Sister Rita relocated to the Salvatorian Sisters Residence in Milwaukee when she began to require more assistance with her health care. She remained active with her fiber arts and other interests and enjoyed sharing community with the other residents at SSR. Sister Rita went home to God peacefully on September 18, 2021, at the age of 97 and professed for 80 years.
Sister Rita was preceded in death by her parents Adam and Mary (Dorn) Faust, her brothers, Joseph (Cyrilla), Peter (Seraphine), Alvis (Rogene), Benedict (Natalie), Alphonse (Imelda), Leo (Germaine), Leon (Nancy); her sisters Elizabeth (Joseph) Melger, Sister Phyllis Faust, SDS, Gertrude (Wilfred) Heimann and brother-in-law, Norman Ludowissi. She is survived by her sisters Sister Georgene Faust, SDS, Margaret (Edwin) Steinert, and Jane Ludowissi, many nieces, nephews and the Salvatorian family. A private memorial Mass was held.