For Sister Rita Barman, 60 years as a Salvatorian has been a family affair. Her sister Jane is a Salvatorian Sister, and her deceased sister Marietta was a Lay Salvatorian. They were three of Frances and Edward Barman’s 11 daughters and 1 son who came to know the Salvatorian Sisters at St. Joseph School in East Bristol, Wis.
Sr. Rita recalls, “I always thought of the sisters as being close to God, and it enkindled in my heart a desire to be close to God. I believe this was the kernel of my vocation.”
She came to Milwaukee to enter the Salvatorian community in 1955, and remembers feeling very happy upon her entrance to the Novitiate when she received her religious name Rosalima.
Sr. Rita taught at Wisconsin elementary schools for 17 years in Milwaukee, Schofield, Wauwatosa, Wausau and Dickeyville, as well as in Lakeville, Minn. She loved using creativity to instill excitement about learning. At one point, she headed up a summer program for students in Milwaukee’s central city. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Marquette University and later her certification in elementary education from Cardinal Stritch College.
Sr. Rita feels her longtime education ministry prepared her to serve 15 years with Milwaukee Catholic Charities’ outreach programs. Those programs included child abuse prevention, migrant and refugee services, early-childhood parenting classes, and special outreach to the local Latino and African-American communities. Sr. Rita found her behind-the-scenes role handling administrative tasks a good fit. She saw how her organizational skills and adaptability enabled her colleagues to devote more time and energy to their clients. She says, “Our programs reached a variety of people in need, sometimes desperate need. I always felt a bond with the outreach staff working to improve the quality of fragile lives.”
Sr. Rita also served in leadership at Salvatorian Sisters Residence, and today continues to serve the province with her artistic gifts and writing skills in numerous ways. She’s also a casual receptionist at our provincial offices, where her gentle, gracious presence blesses all who meet her. She enjoys vacations with her siblings, reading, doing crafts and gardening.