Mother Rita Rowley
General Superior 1960 – 1963

“For the early Christians. . . faith was an abundance of life in Christ, to be lived and transmitted to others. What the contemporary Christian is searching for is fully dimensioned living. A rising generation is in search of the Divine as the very core of its life.” (Mother Rita Rowley, 1963)

Elizabeth Rowley was born August 7, 1913, in County Leitrim, Ireland. She entered the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary in Tarrytown, New York, in 1931. She served as directress of Marymount School of New York, Fifth Avenue, New York, and dean of Marymount Manhattan College, 71st Street, New York. Mother Rita was appointed Provincial Superior of the Eastern American Province. She was elected July 16, 1960, as the seventh General Superior of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary.

Mother Rita laid the foundation for the Instituteís response to Vatican II by emphasizing academic, ecclesial, and spiritual renewal. She wrote three circular letters to the Institute. Their titles indicate the focus of her leadership: The Role of Religious in the Church of Today (1961); What Spirit Animates You: The Letter Kills, the Spirit Gives Life (1962); Renewal (1963). During her term of office, the Generalate was transferred to Rome and the religious habit was modified.

Mother Rita’s term as General Superior ended prematurely at her death July 1, 1963.