Scholar, author, educator and pioneer in the Religious Formation movement; b. Jan. 30, 1916 in Stuart, Iowa; d. Davenport, Iowa, March 20, 2000.
The daughter of James and Mary (Muldoon) Bradley, Ritamary joined the Congregation of the Humility of Mary of Ottumwa, Iowa, in 1933, and in 1972, the Sisters for Christian Community. A graduate of Marygrove College in Detroit, Mich. (1938), she received a doctorate in English from St. Louis University in 1953. After teaching at Marycrest College in Davenport, Iowa, from 1940 to 1956, she joined the English department at St. Ambrose in 1965, where she was professor emerita at the time of her death.
Sister Ritamary was a powerful force in the origins and development of the Sister Formation Conference. From 1951 to 1964 she served as Associate Executive Secretary with Sister Annette Walters, C.S.J., the Executive Secretary of the Conference. She was well in advance of major superiors in grasping the changes taking place in the church and the world, and the consequent demands upon religious-apostolic communities of sisters. Her most outstanding contribution came as founder and editor of the Sister Formation Bulletin (1954–1964). In this role, she empowered women religious of the United States by providing an open forum in which sisters could express their opinions and have them published without censorship from male editors.
With the advance of the electronic age, Bradley seized the opportunity to facilitate communication lines among all women religious and established SISTER-L, an e-mail discussion group for those interested in the history and contemporary concerns of Catholic women religious. In addition to her interest in the lives of women religious, Bradley involved herself in numerous civic and humanitarian issues. She was a member of the Davenport Civil Rights Commission; the Iowa Humanities Board program committee, and the Religion and Literature Advisory Board at the University of Notre Dame. She was a volunteer chaplain at the Scott County Jail and received the Volunteer Service Award in 1990.
Among her extensive writings are two books on the fourteenth century mystic Julian of Norwich. She cofounded the Fourteenth-Century English Mystics Newsletter, now the Mystics Quarterly.
[m. r. madden]