Rita Clare Little was born in Brisbane on January 3, 1930, the first child of Hercules Lambert Little and Mary Veronica Dempsey. She would later enjoy the companionship of four sisters, Margaret, Noela, Ruth and Janice, and a brother, Raymond who died in infancy.
Rita began her education at St Peter & Paul’s School, Bulimba, and completed her secondary education at Lourdes Hill College. She developed a deep affection for the sisters who taught her. She maintained contact with the sisters throughout her life in varying capacities. She was a teacher and deputy principal at the College and spent a number of years as President of the Lourdes Hill Past Pupils’ Association. After Lourdes Hill, Rita combined an active social life with study to become a teacher.
Feeling strong calls to both marriage and religious life and following a time of discernment, in 1950 Rita responded by seeking admission to the Novitiate of the Sisters of the Good Samaritan. She entered on July 2, 1950, and was given the name Sister Mary Lambert. On January 7, 1953 she made her first profession of vows. After the changes brought in with the Second Vatican Council, Rita returned to her baptismal name and became known as Sister Rita.
Rita completed her teacher training in 1953 after which she was appointed to teach at St Joseph’s Primary School, Newtown. Following the successful completion of a Bachelor of Science Degree at the University of Sydney, she was appointed as science teacher at St Scholastica’s College, Glebe Point, and later at Lourdes Hill College, Hawthorne.
In 1972, her excellence in teaching was recognised when she was admitted to membership of the Australian College of Education. Rita was College Principal at St Mary Star of the Sea College, Wollongong from 1972 to 1974 and then at St Patrick’s College, Campbelltown.
In 1977, illness led to a change in ministry. Rita continued to contribute generously to the life and mission of the Congregation. She was a superior in local communities. She applied her many skills in ministry as a Research Officer for the Conference of Major Superiors of Religious Congregations in Queensland, before becoming the Executive Secretary of that Conference.
As Rita’s health became more complex and her care needs increased, Rita moved to Marycrest Hostel at Kangaroo Point in 2007. She lived with the challenges of illness without complaint and moved into Lilian Cooper Nursing Home where she died peacefully on July 8, 2015.
Rita accepted graciously all that life asked of her. Highly skilled in mathematics and the sciences, she also developed a great love of the arts, including literature, theatre and creative writing.
She enjoyed being involved in lively discussion on a range of worldly topics, offering strong opinions and was open to the opinions of others. She loved and gave high priority to spending time with family, including the younger generations.
Rita is survived by Margie and Ivan, Ruth and Tony, Noela and Jan and Grenville and their families. They loved her dearly and included her in all family events. She is fondly remembered with love and gratitude by her family and her Good Samaritan Sisters.