Outgoing Sister Rickie, an avid bicyclist, 'broke the mold'
Sister M. Ricarda Husava, an avid bicyclist who attended beauty school, did not fit the profile of a nun who took vows in 1950.
"She broke the mold. She was just so outgoing that some people were surprised that she was a nun at all. And people could not believe that a nun rides a bike. But Rickie was always a free spirit," said Sister Jean Marie Ulica, who met Sister Husava in 1960, when the two were teachers at Holy Family Elementary School in Erie.
Sister M. Ricarda "Rickie" Husava, a member of the School Sisters of St. Francis of the United States Province for 61 years, died on Monday, May 2, 2011, in Mt. Assisi Convent Motherhouse in Bellevue. She was 79.
One of eight children born to a McKees Rocks family of Slovak descent, Sister Husava was born Amelia Husava on Oct. 14, 1931, to the late Ignatius and Julia Husava. She was educated by the parish schools of St. Mark Parish in McKees Rocks and professed her first vows in 1950 at Mt. Assisi Convent.
"She was educated by the same sisters she later joined and influenced by her mother's devotion to the Virgin Mary," said Sister Elaine Hromulak, community minister for the School Sisters of St. Francis, who knew Sister Husava for 50 years.
Sister Husava received a bachelor's degree in education from Carlow University and a master's degree in library science from Duquesne University.
She served in various locations in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Arizona as an elementary and secondary schoolteacher. She spent about a year in Rome in the 1990s, organizing her order's library.
For years — no matter what time of year it was or what the weather was like — Sister Husava made a daily bike ride between Canonsburg, where she lived, and Immaculate Conception Parish School in Washington, where she taught.
"That was after Vatican II that she started riding a bike. You never could have done it before. She was a very independent person for someone who lived in a community with many rules. I think the bike and the beauty school were her ways of being independent," Hromulak said.
Sister Husava is survived by two brothers, Rudolph Husava of Hazelwood and Joseph Husava of San Dimas, Calif.; and two sisters, Agnes Bechtold of Ross and Ann Mehan of Carnegie.
She was preceded in death by three brothers, Steve, John and James Husava.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m. today in Queen of Angels Chapel, Mt. Assisi Convent.