Sister Rita, 90, St. Dominic's principal

February 25, 2006

Sister Rita Dignan, the former principal of St. Dominic's School in Hamilton, died of a stroke Thursday at her order's Emmitsburg retirement home. She was 90.

Born Rita Frances Dignan in Baltimore and raised on Preston Street, she was a 1933 Seton High School graduate. She entered the Daughters of Charity that year and earned a bachelor's degree in elementary education from Villanova University in suburban Philadelphia. She also earned a master's degree from St. John's University in Jamaica, N.Y.

Sister Rita began teaching in 1935 at a Philadelphia orphanage and had other assignments in Virginia, Massachusetts and suburban Washington.

In the 1960s she was principal at St. Dominic's in Northeast Baltimore and was later assistant principal at St. Michael's in Overlea.

In 1976, Sister Rita began a 15-year tenure as assistant administrator for her order's Emmitsburg retirement home. From 1995 to 2003 she worked in pastoral care at St. Agnes Hospital in Southwest Baltimore. She then retired.

"She loved all her assignments, whether they were orphanages, schools or hospitals," said her niece, Rita Hundley of Towson.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 11 a.m. today at the Basilica of the National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Emmitsburg.

In addition to her niece, survivors include six other nieces and three nephews.

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