Peace & Justice

This is the blog of the Commission on Peace and Justice for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Remembering Sister Anita

Carol DeMare of the Times Union wrote of beautiful obituary last week for Sister Anita von Wellsheim, a member of the Society of the Sacred Heart for 69 years, who worked in both Nicaragua and Haiti. Sister Anita died at Kenwood Convent of the Sacred Heart on South Pearl Street in Albany.
She traveled to war-torn Nicaragua with Witness for Peace, a human rights and economic justice organization, where she was one of 28 kidnapped by Contra forces at gunpoint in 1985 and in deep jungle mud made to march up a mountain before being freed after 29 hours.
. . .
For 40 years she was a teacher and administrator.

In her mid-60s, she took on a new career, that of an activist. She traveled to Haiti as a social worker in the early 1990s and wasn't deterred by paramilitary forces.

"She certainly was a very dedicated person and about midway in her ministry years, she became very involved with social justice issues and concern for the poor and was insatiable in her desire to do whatever she could," said Sister Marie Buonato, director of pastoral care at Kenwood. "She immersed herself in Haiti and the Fonkoze."

Fonkoze was a well-known bank in Haiti that provided services to the poor as a means of encouraging self-sufficiency. Sister Anita was a prominent member of the enterprise who helped raise money for it.

"It is not God's will that they should live in such dire poverty and oppression," she said in a 2001 Times Union story. "This is the result of a system that is not just."
. . .
Sister Anita had a soft spot for the less fortunate, and in the 1980s was director of refugee resettlement for the Albany diocese.
. . .
Contributions can be made to the Society of the Sacred Heart, 4389 West Pine Blvd., St. Louis, MO. 63108.

The rest of the story is available here.