Rita (Cyprian) Kunkel, OSB
Saint Benedict’s Monastery
St. Joseph, Minn.
May 30, 1936 – July 13, 2023
The Eucharist of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, July 17, 2023, at the Sacred Heart Chapel, Saint Benedict’s Monastery, St. Joseph, Minn., for Sister Rita (Cyprian) Kunkel, who died on July 13, 2023, at Saint Scholastica Convent, St. Cloud, Minn. Burial will be in the monastery cemetery. Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to Benson Funeral Home. Friends may call at Saint Scholastica Convent on Sunday, July 16, for a Prayer Service at 3 p.m. followed by visitation until 4:15 p.m., or for a Vigil Prayer Service at 7 p.m. at Saint Benedict’s Monastery. Visitation continues at 9 a.m. until the time of the funeral on Monday, July 17.
Rita was born May 30, 1936, to Leo and Katherine (Resch) Kunkel in Pine City, Minn., the youngest of 12 children, having six brothers and five sisters. The family moved to Kimball, Minn., where she attended Kimball Public Grade School, and later Saint Benedict’s High School in St. Joseph, Minn. She entered Saint Benedict’s Monastery on September 3, 1950, was received into the novitiate, taking the name Cyprian, on June 16, 1954, made first monastic profession on July 11, 1955, and perpetual monastic profession on July 11, 1958. She celebrated her Golden Jubilee in 2005 and her 60th Jubilee in 2015. S. Rita reverted to her baptismal name in 1974.
Having a scientific mind, S. Rita earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry with minors in physics, mathematics, philosophy and secondary education from the College of Saint Benedict, St. Joseph, in 1963. She received a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the College of Saint Benedict in 1977 and was licensed as a registered nurse. She was also certified in psychiatric nursing by Medical College of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pa., and in parish nursing by the College of Saint Benedict. She attended summer programs on National Science Foundation Grants at Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, Ill., Beaver College, Glenside, Pa., and University of Minnesota, Duluth, Minn.
Education was S. Rita’s first ministry. She taught in elementary education in Sauk Centre and in St. Cloud and chemistry, physics and religion at secondary levels at St. Boniface High School, Cold Spring, Minn., and Saint Benedict’s High School. A period serving at the monastery as assistant and later community living coordinator was followed by ministry in health care. She served at St. Cloud Hospital, in the infirmary at Saint Benedict’s Monastery, at Saint Scholastica Convent as health care supervisor, and finally at St. Joseph Medical Center in Brainerd, Minn., where she worked in the mental health unit. In 2001, she returned to Saint Benedict’s Monastery to serve in hospitality as guest house coordinator and later as receptionist and helped with healthcare. She enjoyed being a crafter and continued embroidering tea towels when she moved to Saint Scholastica Convent in December 2022.
S. Rita is survived by her Benedictine community as well as nieces and nephews and their families. She was preceded in death by her parents, her brothers and sisters-in-law, Jerome (Drusilla), Ambrose (Elinor, Peggy), Benedict (Jean), Norbert (Isabel), Bernard (Lucille) and Leo (Agatha) and her sisters and brothers-in-law, Margaret (Andrew) Wilson, Sister Francetta, SSPS, Bernice (Richard) Nephew, Dolores (Manley) Nystrom and Mary Catherine (Milton) Lee.
Please direct memorial gifts to the Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict Outreach Ministries.