September 23, 1937 – August 25, 2022
Sister Rita Jean DuBrey, 85, died at St. Joseph’s Provincial House, Latham, New York, on August 25, 2022. Sister Rita was a Sister of St. Joseph for 62 years. Born in Comstock, New York, she was the daughter of Clarence John DuBrey and Valerie Bouyea.
Sister Rita Jean attended St. Peter’s Hospital School of Nursing, receiving her RN degree in 1957. She then entered the Sisters of St. Joseph, professing final vows in 1962. She received her Bachelor’s degree in psychology from St. Catherine’s College, St. Paul, Minnesota (1964) and her Masters of science in nursing in clinical nursing from the University of Pennsylvania (1974).
Sister Rita’s nursing ministry was about healing, inner and outer. In 1964 she was appointed instructor at St. Mary’s Hospital School of Nursing, Amsterdam, NY. In 1974 she became Director of St. Mary’s Patient and Community Health Education, which helped hospital and clinic patients learn to stop diseases before they happened and recover from trauma, illness, and addiction. Sister Rita’s healing ministry included her work as a credentialed alcoholism and substance abuse counselor.
In 1993, Sister Rita became Director of the Center for Complementary Therapies at St. Mary’s Hospital, offering multiple therapeutic opportunities to assist patients in restoring “harmony, balance and wholeness in mind, body and spirit.” Soon she brought “Healing Touch” therapy to Amsterdam, and through her widespread teaching, far beyond.
Retiring in 2019, Sister Rita delighted in bringing “Healing Touch” to her Sisters at the Provincial House in Albany, New York, who were most grateful for her gift.
Sister Rita published multiple professional articles and a well-received book, Promoting Wellness in Nursing (1982). Over her 40 years of service, she received many awards, including the “Wellness Leader Award” (American Institute for Preventative Medicine, 1974), and the University of Pennsylvania Brunner Award for Innovative Practice in Nursing (1990).
For Sister Rita, “Healing others and helping them be to become independent” was not work but a ministry: “If it is not done with faith and in the light of eternity and building the Kingdom of God, then it doesn’t make much sense.” When asked about her ability to keep her challenging schedule, always with her special smile and warmth, she said her deep faith in God’s “Divine Mercy,” supported by daily meditation, sustained her.
The community of the Sisters of St. Joseph, especially her dear companion in ministry, Sister Christine Michael, and the love of her family, her sister, Barbara, her niece, Kelly and nephew Daniel, enriched Sister Rita, as she did the same for them. She will be dearly missed. Sister Rita was predeceased by her parents and her sister, Shirley Winch.
Due to continued health concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be no public visitation or funeral services for Sister Rita. Contributions in her memory may be made to the Office of Mission Advancement, St. Joseph’s Provincial House, 385 Watervliet Shaker Rd., Latham, New York, 12110 or you can donate online.