Advocating for Social Justice

Sister Marita Zeller…and peace and empowerment of people

Retired School Sister of St. Francis Marita Zeller reflected on her service as a teacher at Holy Angels School in Chicago, which serves African American students.

“I went to Holy Angels twice, first to be a seventh grade teacher, and the second time to do a number of things both in the school and in the parish. I went thinking about what I could do personally for the cause of working against racism. Instead, after 20 years of service, I see that it was nothing that I did. No, my own life was changed and enriched beyond my expectations as I opened myself to such a warm and loving people who have an innate love of Scripture.”

The school parents, the women of Christ Renews His Parish, and the adults in R.C.I.A. taught Sister Marita the deep meaning of faith.

“In bad situations you have to have faith. The stories the people told of not having money for food, clothing, shelter; of having family members involved in drugs or in prison; or of the racism they faced in the workplace filled me with admiration for the strength of their persistent faith and hope,” she said.

Sister Marita asserts that it is imperative that we continue to address the issue of race in many ways, especially by listening to African Americans themselves. “The relationships I formed and the studies I have participated in have been wonderful. It was such an awakening to be able to read the Bible from the point of view of different ethnic groups. My entire experience, as it has been for so many of our sisters, of entering and being welcomed into the African American community, is a gift beyond measure. Let us be ever grateful that God has graced the School Sisters of St. Francis with several African American sisters, who have been putting up with us almost 60 years now.”

Adapted from an article prepared by the School Sisters of St. Francis Pastoral Ministry Network.