In the midst of poverty in India, Rita’s life was marked with much suffering. Sickness, tragedies and the deaths of her father and older brother led her to a feeling of desperation. She was 19 when God intervened in her life through the Holy Spirit.
Rita D’Souza was born in Bombay, India, the eldest daughter and second of six children. Her mother’s strong Catholic faith led her to bring her children to Church. When there was no food at home and no way to get any, Rita’s mother would say, ”God will provide.” She had an incredible determination and ability to sacrifice for her children. This example strongly influenced Rita to also trust in God.
Because they were so poor, Rita’s mother made the sacrifice to provide a Catholic education for her children at a boarding school served by the Canossian Sisters. The Sisters strengthened the seed of the Catholic faith instilled by her mother. After high school, Rita worked as a secretary.
At 19, Rita experienced the Baptism in the Holy Spirit when she attended an outreach called the Miracle Crusade, led by a U.S. Protestant evangelistic group. Her life changed so radically that she became fully involved in the Catholic Church. It was after this event that she heard about the Charismatic Renewal. She joined a youth group in Bombay called ”Rock Revelations” that met regularly for the purpose of growing in faith, holiness and evangelization. This group conducted outreaches that drew thousands of people to accept Jesus as the Lord and Savior of their lives.
It was a big sacrifice to be fully devoted to this ministry, keep a full-time job and attend college besides, but the benefits far surpassed the sacrifices. As Rita shared her faith, she grew so much stronger in her love and commitment to the Lord. She also led a prayer group during lunch hour at her work place and started one in her parish.
At age 24, Rita desired to give her whole life in service to the Church. When she shared this with a priest, he told her that he thought she had a religious vocation, and the only community he would recommend to her was in Channing, Texas. This sounded outrageous to Rita at first, because she had no previous thoughts of religious life. She had not traveled outside of India before, having never even flown on an airplane.
The Lord began to work in her heart, and as she chose to answer, He confirmed her religious vocation through many little signs each step of the way. In September of 1985, she arrived at Prayer Town with another young woman from India, now Sister Joan. Rita received the name Sister Rita as a novice, making her first vows in 1987 and her perpetual vows in 1991. Her greatest joy is being a visible witness to reach out to people and offer them the best gift of all-JESUS.