Sister Rita O’Leary | 1935 – 2021
An unflagging supporter of Catholic education, her family and her Immaculata family, Sister M. Rita O’Leary, IHM, formerly Sister Rita Regina, died peacefully on Feb. 25. Sister Rita began serving at Immaculata as a music faculty member in 1971 and became dean of students from 1973 to 1985. As dean, she offered support at any hour of the day or night for students who faced a death in the family or personal crises.
Sister Rita left Immaculata to serve at various Catholic schools and returned in 2003 as director of planned giving until 2017. “She was very adamant about securing the future of Immaculata,” said Karen DeLucia Matweychuk ’83, director of alumni relations and the Immaculata Fund. “She worked tirelessly for IU, always thanking people through personal notes or phone calls. She was like an Energizer Bunny!” In addition to her role at Immaculata, Sister Rita was also active with Partners in Mission, a consulting and professional education firm focused on Catholic school advancement and leadership.
Matweychuk also noted Sister’s love for music and the Phillies, her strong leadership and administrative skills, and her availability for anyone in need, whether students or coworkers. “She remembered everyone’s names and always loved seeing our alumni return to Immaculata and reconnecting with them,” Matweychuk said.
Sister Regina Mauricia DeFeo | 1936 – 2021
Whether she was taking tuition payments, learning to incorporate graphing calculators into her math classes, mentoring younger faculty members or simply organizing a closet, Sister Regina Mauricia DeFeo, IHM, did her work with order, grace and quiet generosity. Formerly known as Elaine L. DeFeo, she died on March 25.
Sister Regina Mauricia served as Immaculata’s treasurer from 1978 to 1988 and then taught mathematics and supported the math and computer sciences department until 2018. Mary Elizabeth “M.E.” Jones ’82, Ph.D., math and computing professor, appreciated Sister’s systematic approach to her work. “She mentored me as someone coming from industry to academia,” Jones said, noting that Sister helped her see the links between courses by having her teach them in curricular order. “She was an advocate of graphing calculators to help students visualize mathematics,” Jones added.
“For me, she was a pillar in this department,” Jones said. “She was always even-keeled and could handle things so gracefully.”