Mother Rita Brunner, a Franciscan Sister of the Eucharist, died peacefully in Canticle House at the Franciscan Life Process Center in Lowell, Michigan on April 24, 2014. She was born on July 23, 1914 to Mary and Joseph Brunner in Lima, Wisconsin. She attended Sacred Heart School in Lima and was in the first high school graduating class of Sacred Heart High School in 1931.
She entered the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration and made first vows in 1934. She was a teacher and administrator in schools in LaCrosse, Halder and St. Mary’s Ridge in Wisconsin and Festina and Roselle in Iowa. In 1962 she was sent to Santa Ana, El Salvador to start, teach and direct the Madre del Salvador Parish School, a mission very close to her heart. In 1966 she was called back to the United States to serve as the first Provincial Superior of the Southern Province of the FSPA Community. In 1970 she was named as Provincial Superior of the newly formed Provisional Province in FSPA.
In 1973 Mother Rita was a founding member of the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist and served as a General Councilor from 1973-1999.
In 1972 the Franciscan Life Process Center was begun in Lowell, Michigan under her direction and the Franciscan Preschool was initiated in 1975. She loved people and was especially fond of young children. Her simple quiet presence and closeness to Our Lord were obvious to all who knew her.
She is survived by her brother Gerald (Veronica) Brunner, brother-in-law Willis Poeschel, sisters-in-law Lorraine and Marion Brunner, many nieces and nephews, the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist and the Franciscan Brothers of the Eucharist. Preceding her in death were her parents, her sister Margaret Poeschel and her brothers Ray, Edmund, and James (Evelyn) Brunner.
Funeral arrangements are under the care of FSE Funeral Director Sister Patricia Glass and Roth-Gerst Funeral Home, Lowell. Visitation will be in the Annunciation Chapel of the Franciscan Life Process Center, 11650 Downes Street, Lowell, on Friday, May 2nd from 4:00 to 7:00 followed by a Wake Service at 7:00 p.m. The Mass of Christian Burial will be at St. Mary’s Church, 402 Amity St. SE in Lowell, at 10:00 a.m. on May 3rd. The burial will follow in the Franciscan Cemetery at 11761 Downes Street, Lowell.
Memorials are welcome for the Chapel being built at the motherhouse of the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist in Meriden, Connecticut.
Mother Rita’s Photo: USCCB. Jim Judkis.