Fordham University mourns the passing of Sister Rita Arthur (Mother Robert), R.S.H.M., a 1950 graduate of Marymount College in Tarrytown and a former administrator and professor of French. She died on January 18.
A wake will be held Wednesday, Jan. 21 from 2:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. A funeral Mass and burial will take place Thursday, Jan. 22 at 11 a.m. All services will be at the Marymount Convent, 32 Warren Ave., Tarrytown, NY.
Sister Arthur entered the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary (RSHM) on Sept. 8, 1948. She completed her novitiate in Belziers, France, where she developed a passion for international issues and language. She obtained her Doctorat d’Université in French literature from the Université de Rennes and taught French at Marymount Manhattan College as well as at her alma mater.
“Sister Rita was the dean of students when I was a student at Marymount College in Tarrytown,” said fellow alumna Sister Mary Heyser, R.S.H.M., MC ’62, Marymount Alumnae Chaplain at Fordham. “She was so welcoming and warm to all the students and made us feel at home.”
At Marymount Manhattan College, Sister Arthur served many roles over the years in addition to professor of French, including international recruiter, study abroad director, vice president for planning and information services, director of the Women in Management Program, and dean of students. She served on the Board of Trustees from 1966 to 1985, and again from 2001 to 2010.
A well-regarded representative of the United Nations, Sister Arthur was the founding NGO representative to the UN for the RSHM and was pivotal to the RSHM securing both UN Department of Public Information and Economic and Social Development Council status.
She served on several UN committees, including social development, HIV/AIDS, sub-committee on poverty, and the eradication of poverty day planning committees. In addition, she was a member of the UN/NGO Department of Public Information executive committee and served as a contributor to an NGO higher education outreach program. She was also a past director of the American Institute for Foreign Studies.
“Sister Rita was always conscious of the international dimension, living out a dream of Mother Butler who from the beginning of Marymount College made the students aware of the international scene and started school in Europe, enabling study abroad,” Sister Heyser said. “She will be missed by many for her joyful and inclusive spirit.”
Sister Arthur most recently served as a trustee of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, as a trustee of Marymount School in New York City, and as a board director for the Partnership of Global Justice, an NGO coalition that promotes the United Nations Charter.