Heights native to make perpetual profession of vows

Photo courtesy of Sr. Mary Gemma Harris Sr. Rita Clare interacts with students at Florida State University as part of her campus ministry work.

Photo courtesy of Sr. Mary Gemma Harris
Sr. Rita Clare interacts with students at Florida State University as part of her campus ministry work.

HEIGHTS — Sr. Rita Clare (Anne) Yoches, T.O.R., is scheduled to make her perpetual profession of vows on June 30 at Father of Mercy Chapel in Toronto, Ohio, at the motherhouse of her community, the Franciscan Sisters, Third Order Regular of Penance of the Sorrowful Mother.

Sr. Rita Clare, grew up in Dearborn Heights, will vow to live chastity, poverty and obedience for the whole of her life. Bishop Jeffrey Monforton, bishop for the Diocese of Steubenville, will preside over the Perpetual Profession Ceremony, which will occur within the context of a Mass.

During the first part of the ceremony, she will wear a white cape over her habit, symbolizing a wedding garment that also serves as a reminder of her baptism, and a bridal crown of red and white roses. Mother Mary Ann, the Reverend Mother of the community, will give her a ring during the ceremony as a sign that she is a bride of Christ.
Sr. Rita Clare is the daughter of Robert and Mary Yoches, who live in Allen Park and attend St. Frances Cabrini Church. She has an older sister who lives in Michigan and a younger brother who lives in Ohio.

She grew up attending Church of the Divine Child in Dearborn Heights, and graduated from Divine Child High School in 1997. She went on to study Sports Medicine at University of Detroit-Mercy with a full-ride scholarship to play Division I basketball all four years.

She graduated in 2001 with a bachelor of science and certification as an athletic trainer and strength and conditioning coach. For the next academic year, 2001-02, she interned at the University of Notre Dame as a strength and conditioning coach and played for the South Bend Golden Hawks, a women’s professional football team.

In 2002, she became the assistant director at Total Performance Training Center in Wixom, where she worked until entering the Franciscan Sisters in 2009.

Sr. Rita Clare was a fullback for the Detroit Demolition women’s professional football team from 2003 to 2006. Her team won the national championship all four years.

During this time, she attended Our Lady of Good Counsel in Plymouth. She returned to the sacrament of confession after living a party lifestyle for a number of years. On a pilgrimage to Assisi, Italy, the birthplace of St. Francis and the Franciscan order, she began to feel a call to religious life.

Later, at a prayer service at Franciscan University of Steubenville, she prayed to know whether she should continue pursuing her relationship with her boyfriend, or end it for a more exclusive relationship with the Lord.

A group of university students prayed with her and read to her a passage from Isaiah 62:

“As a young man marries a virgin, your Builder shall marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride so shall your God rejoice in you.”

But it wasn’t until a similar prayer service a year later that she really felt Jesus ask her to marry him.

She wrote, “I dropped down to my knees and the girls praying over me said, ‘The Lord wants you to know that he is yours and he wants to know, will you be his?’ This deep ‘Yes’ came out of me. Immediately I had feelings of joy, thinking the Lord picked me!”

Sr. Rita Clare visited four communities, but it was the Franciscan Sisters, T.O.R. that “felt like home,” she said. She entered in 2009 and made her first profession of vows in 2012.

Since then, she lived for five years at Heart of Mary House of Prayer and Service in downtown Steubenville, serving the poor through ministries at the diocesan thrift store and emergency food bank, Samaritan House, which she coordinated from 2014 to 2017. She also coordinated LAMP, a bimonthly soup kitchen, from 2013 to 2014.

This coming year, she will continue her work as a campus minister at Florida State University in Tallahassee, an assignment she began a year ago.

Read the rest of Sr. Rita Clare’s vocation story or more about the Franciscan Sisters, T.O.R. on their website, www.franciscansisterstor.org.