Rita is on the left. She’s with Donald, her late husband, and her beloved sister Noreen.

Now and at the Hour of Our Death

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By Noreen Wright

Two sisters who had grown up in Ireland eventually left their homeland. One went to the United States and the other to England. Both married and, eventually, both were widowed. They frequently visited one another and spoke on the phone each day. They were often referred to as Irish twins, as they were so close in age and looked so much alike.

I am speaking of my sister Rita and me. One of the things that became an annual event for us was to attend the Divine Mercy Conference in Bronx, New York, co-sponsored by the Marian Fathers, and 2014 was no different.

We met up with fellow conference pilgrims in Staten Island and took a bus to the Bronx, saying the Rosary and singing hymns. Along the way, Rita pointed out some of the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy and also the hospital where her late husband, Donald, was treated prior to his death the previous November.

Neither Rita nor I had rosary beads with us, but Fr. Joe Roesch, MIC's mom, who was on the bus, lent Rita a rosary that had been blessed by St. John Paul II. She was so thrilled. On arrival at Cardinal Spellman High School, we were greeted by Fr. Joe, who serves as the Marians' vicar general in Rome. We had met him the previous year.

We had a blessed, spiritual day — Holy Mass, Confession, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and we listened to some amazing speakers, including Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC. It had been announced that Sr. Briege McKenna would be invited as a speaker for the following year's conference. Rita was very pleased about this and said, "Next year, please God, we will get Bee [our sister in Ireland] to come."

Rita was in great form. On leaving the venue, when we were on the bus, she spoke with Carole Weare, a young lady she knew as a child. Then she went to give John, the driver, a few dollars as he'd been waiting all day for us. She also chatted with Mrs. Roesch (Fr. Joe's mom) and asked her to pray for her daughter Donna, who has a son with special needs.

When we got off the bus, snowflakes were falling. On several occasions, from the time that I had arrived on Tuesday evening, Rita had told me that as her husband was dying, she was reciting the Rosary and that he was moving his lips along with her words ("... now and at the hour of our death ...").

She then said to me, "We have had a beautiful, peaceful day."

On arriving at the car, Rita fumbled for her keys, and when we both sat down in the car, she fell into my arms, and she was gone to eternity. I opened the car door and cried for help. The rest is a little vague except that Fr. Joe, who had heard my cries, came to the car window and offered to anoint her.

Rita died of a heart attack. Thank God that on the last day of her life she had been to Confession, attended Mass, and received Holy Communion, and she received the Anointing of the Sick. What a wonderful, beautiful way to meet the Lord! God could not have done any more to prepare someone to meet Him. Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May she rest in peace. Amen.

I hope that in reading this story, someone will be helped to discover the blessing of the Divine Mercy.

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CHARLES OTIENO - Sep 28, 2016

R I P Rita, you went to be with the Lord Jesus in a wonderful way. Remember us who are still on the way.