Sr. Rita Rennell, IHM, died Saturday, Aug. 22, at IHM Senior Living Community. She was 95.
Rita Virginia Rennell was one of seven children, three boys, and four girls, of Ambrose and Mary (Sullivan) Rennell of Detroit. Born on Jan. 11, 1925, she was baptized in St. Anthony parish. She attended the T. Dale Cook Elementary School and graduated from St. Mary of Redford High School. Rita enrolled at Marygrove College and was two years into studies for the teaching profession when she he entered the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Monroe) and received the religious name Sister Marie Ambrose.
Sister Rita completed her studies, earning a bachelor’s degree from Marygrove College. Early teaching assignments included St. Mary (Monroe), St. Matthew and St. Cecelia (Detroit), St/ Michael (Flint) and St. Stephen (Port Huron). She moved to high school education in 1955 at St. Martin (Detroit). During her sixth year there, she was surprised to be missioned to Cayey, Puerto Rico to teach at Colegio La Merced. Teaching all subjects at the all-girls school, Sister Rita enjoyed four years of ministry in Puerto Rico. Returning to Michigan in 1965, she continued teaching high school at St. Gregory (Detroit) and Marian High School (Birmingham). In 1974, Sister Rita attended Lake Michigan College (Benton Harbor) as a student of nursing. After graduation and receiving certification as a registered nurse, she ministered at the IHM Motherhouse Infirmary for 13 years, serving both as a nurse and as Director of Nurses. She enjoyed a year of renewal, participating in the CREDO Program at Gonzaga University, Spokane, Wash. Once again called to overseas missions, Sister Rita ministered as a nurse at Langsyde Mission, Natal, South Africa for two years, and then as missionary and in pastoral work and education in Howak, South Africa.
In retirement and living at the Motherhouse since 1996, Sister Rita volunteered in many supportive services for the community, supported the campus organic garden, sewed crafts for residents and served as eucharistic minister and lector at community services until her health declined.
Sister Rita is survived by her sister Dorothy Ann McDonald, brothers, Robert and John, many nieces and nephews, and sisters in community. She was preceded in death by her sisters, Teresa Rennell, IHM and Betty Marie Peters, and brother, James Rennell.
Because of COVID-19 restrictions, services will be private at the IHM Motherhouse Chapel on Friday, Aug. 28. Arrangements were under the direction of the Rupp Funeral Home. Memorials may be made to the IHM Retirement Fund, 610 W. Elm Ave., Monroe, MI 48162-7909.
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