Sister Marie Carmen
Sr. Rita Bergamini
Sitting at the table in her room at St. Joseph Residence in Seattle, Sister Rita Bergamini looks out the window. She gazes at the lovely tree across the street and reflects on its many facets of beauty she has witnessed throughout the years – the new beginnings of springtime, the warmth and growth of summertime, the maturity of autumn, and the eternal hope of winter. It reminds her of her own lifetime.
The new beginnings of spring. The last of nine children, Sister Rita was born in Martinez, Calif., to Italian immigrants Maximillian and Adalgiza (Lambruschini) Bergamini. The family was enriched with the enjoyment of art, music and nature. After graduation from high school, Sister Rita attended Providence College of Nursing in Oakland, Calif., where the seeds of a vocation were being planted. After graduation and about a year of nursing, she entered the Sisters of Providence. She made first profession of vows in 1945 and received Sister Marie Carmen as her name in religion.
The warmth and growth of summer. After profession of vows, Sister Rita served at St. Vincent Hospital in Portland, Ore., and at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Yakima, Wash. These were challenging experiences. She had to make difficult decisions right on the spot. She also served as director of St. Mary Hospital School of Nursing in Walla Walla, Wash.; director of Seattle University’s Providence Hospital Clinical Unit; provincial councilor and provincial secretary. In 1972, Sister Rita created the province’s permanent archives. For 25 years, she was the keeper of the province’s memory. She earned several degrees: a bachelor’s degree in nursing education from Seattle University, a master’s degree in nursing education from Catholic University, Washington, D.C., and a Ph.D. in education from the University of California, Berkeley.
The maturity of autumn. It is a season of trees turning beautiful colors. Similarly, wisdom comes with age. Sister Rita had an active, faith-filled ministry and had grown wise. She retired from active ministry in 1991. She remains active in outreach ministry by gathering donations for Providence Regina House. She also participates in St. Joseph Residence activities and enjoys art, music and nature.
The eternal hope of winter. The tree is bare and it is cold and rainy outside. Thankfully, God has placed eternity in our hearts. Sister Rita knows that even though her parents, all her siblings, and many community friends have passed on, she will one day join them.
Sister Rita continues to gaze at the tree. She understands that all of her life experiences were because of our Providential God who loves, guides and sustains her. Everything in her life is completely in God’s hands. Through prayer and devotion, Sister Rita chooses to respond in love to the changes in the seasons of her life. She is profoundly grateful for all.