In Memoriam

Sister Rita Schiltz, OP (Damian)


Rita was a true Dominican artist preacher. Personally, I found her to be a woman of few words but believe she found her voice in the words of our Franciscan Brother, Francis of Assisi. “Preach always. When necessary, use words.” Rita loudly and clearly proclaimed God’s Word through her art of sacred spaces. These chapels and churches are “living examples” of her pouring out and sharing the fruits of her contemplation.

All the chapels and churches she designed and built with Barbara were not just buildings but projects whose life force built and sustained communities brought together in the process. … We will never know how many folks enter a chapel or church designed by Rita and Barbara and say to themselves: “This is where I meet God.”

These words from Pat Daly, president of the Dominican Institute for the Arts, were a reflection upon the life of Sister Rita Schiltz, who with Sister Barbara Chenicek designed sacred spaces across the U.S. in their INAI Studio for many years.

Rita Celene Schiltz was born on October 6, 1925, in Chicago to Nicholas and Barbara (Droessler) Schiltz. She was the couple’s fifth child and third daughter.

Nicholas was born on a farm near Bancroft, Iowa, while Barbara was born in Kieler, Wisconsin. Her father, like Nicholas’ father a farmer, found the rocky Kieler soil difficult to till, and bought land near Bancroft – down the road from the Schiltz farm. “Dad would go to the Droessler farm to spend time with the boys, and eventually to court Mom,” Sister Rita wrote in her autobiography.

Read more about Sister Rita (pdf)

make a memorial giftMemorial gifts may be made to Adrian Dominican Sisters, 1257 East Siena Heights Drive, Adrian, Michigan, 49221. 



INAI Studio's 40th Anniversary Celebration, with Sisters Rita Schiltz and Barbara Chenicek at Weber Center Auditorium, June 2, 2013


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Avatar  Catherine M Schiltz 2 years agoReply

Thanks to all for fine tuning the technology in order to allow those of us unable to attend services to attend remotely. The Mass was beautiful and the prayer vigil gave me more insight into her life as a teacher. I (Cathy/Kate) am the daughter of Sister Rita's brother Nicholas James and my mother Mary Rita. I remember when Sister Rita used to visit us when we were growing up, it was always a big occasion. At first she would arrive in her habit and then changes took place over the years. There are nine brothers and sisters in my family and I am followed by my sister Rita. Once during sister's visit my Dad and Sister Rita asked my sister Rita who she was named after and she replied "Cathy". My Dad and Sister Rita got a big laugh out of that one. Sister Rita and her father (my grandfather) were visiting when my father died at home in December 1973 and she was a great comfort to our family at that time. I've always been in awe of her creativity and I saw that first hand when I visited The Chapel of the Plains in West Bend, KS. Thanks to all the sisters and others who cared for Sister Rita and shared companionship with her over the years. I will continue to strive to have a faith as strong as Sister Rita. With heartfelt thanks, Cathy Schiltz

Avatar  Cinda Riley (Cindy Opanowski) 2 years agoReply

Sr. Rita is a gem...teacher, friend, mentor. As my teacher she challenged me and gave me the tools to be the best artist I could be. As my friend she supported me in the ups and downs of life. As my mentor she helped me shape the paths my life would take. Thank you Sr. Damian for all the moments we shared during these past 51 years of friendship beginning at Saint Dominic College in 1969 right up to the present. You have been a blessing to me. Thank you, Cinda

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