Sisters of the Past

Sister Rita - Tilly Links

Profiled in August 2003

1 January 1883 - 30 January 1962

 Sister Rita was known particularly for her association with Holy Infancy School Aramoho. This school was the first school on the site of the present St Mary’s School. Sister Rita took charge of this school in 1904, the year she joined the Sisters of St Joseph, and taught there for the following 40 years. She was so much identified with the school that it became known as “Sister Rita’s School”.

Sister Rita was originally from the town of Carcoar in New South Wales, Australia. Her aunt was Sister Teresa, one of the first four Sisters of St Joseph to arrive in Wanganui from Bathurst in 1880. Sister Rita, whose name was Tilly Links, came over from Australia with her two sisters as boarders at Sacred Heart Convent. Later after leaving school, all three became Sisters of St Joseph, Rita being professed on 23 January 1906.

Those who remember her speak of a gifted teacher who was musical, creative and had boundless energy. She was noted for the operettas she put on, the singing, dancing and poetry, and the percussion bands she trained for the annual St Patrick’s Concerts. One interesting story is of a little boy who try as he did, could not keep time in the band. On the night of the concert Sister Rita gave him an instrument which made no sound! She would never have put him out of the band.

Sister Rita had a big heart. As well as her school teaching she visited many of the families especially those who were in any kind of need. She was always a great source of encouragement to parents. In those days the Sisters did all their visiting on foot, and Sisters were not permitted to take a cup of tea when visiting. She worked tirelessly at the fund raising necessary to keep the school equipped and spent many hours making sweets to sell. When the school finally was able to build swimming baths they were named “Rita Baths” in her honour.

Other Sisters remembered her attention to others, always filling the lunch baskets before the walk down to the school at Aramoho from Sacred Heart each day. She suffered from a condition, which was most likely Parkinson’s disease, which meant she continually shook. When she wrote on the blackboard she had to steady one hand with the other. However it never hindered her from her teaching or her visiting.

Sister Rita died in Wanganui on 30 January 1962.

Gallery / Whakaahua

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