Sister Rita was born in Boston, daughter of Francis J. and Catherine (Ellis) Murphy. She was a graduate of St. Joseph High School in Somerville, Mass. and Emmanuel College. She received a master's degree in education with a concentration in guidance at Salem State University.
In 1948, after finishing high school, she entered the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and was known for many years as Sister Julie St. Francis. Sister Rita was an elementary school teacher for more than 20 years in Notre Dame affiliated schools in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Connecticut. She was also a school librarian in New Britain, Conn. and a Director of Religious Education at St. Luke Parish in Hartford. She retired from ministry in 2010 after 12 years as a teacher of English for Speakers of Other Languages at the Notre Dame Education Center in Lawrence. Sister Rita had resided at Notre Dame du Lac in Worcester since 2011.
Sister Rita died on April 20, 2022 at age 91 and after 57 years as a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur. She lived her life with good humor and kindness of heart.
Sister Rita leaves several cousins, and her sisters in religion, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.
Sister Rita's funeral was held on Monday, April 25th in the Notre Dame du Lac Chapel, 555 Plantation St., Worcester. She is buried at Notre Dame du Lac Cemetery in Worcester, Mass.
Staffers Alicyn and Sonia felt they had lost a close friend when Sister Rita Murphy died. So at her funeral they wore the tee shirts they had made in her honor. In Rita's favorite purple color, the tee shirt features her constant phrase, "it is what it is," a joyous picture, and then sunrise and sunset dates instead of birth and death. Staff and residents will miss the love she shared.