Paulette Peterson CoL
I grew up in a small town outside Chicago: Lemont, Ill. My mother was Roman Catholic and my father was Protestant. My sister, Elaine, is 10 years younger. I attended Catholic grade school and high school and was introduced to the Sisters of Loretto when I attended Webster College in St. Louis.
My experience at Webster was important because it was a time of change in the Church, society and in myself. New notions of faith and action, the exploration of scripture and Vatican II were compelling to a young girl just out of a conventional high school. I was involved in work in the inner city, civil rights and actions against the war in Vietnam. Loretto was an important influence in my life. The Sisters had an enthusiasm for learning and questioning the status quo in society and the Church. My time at Webster was the beginning of my lifelong experience with and love of the Loretto Community.
At Webster I studied young childhood education. For 10 years I worked developing preschools in underserved areas for children who did not have opportunities for equal education. I enjoyed that work and learned about the structure of poverty and racism and its devastating impact on communities. I also witnessed the resilience of people to make their communities better and to work for justice in their neighborhood.
I also taught religion at Loretto in Kansas City, Mo., for several years. During that time, I became a co-member and then a vowed member.
I went to Vietnam in 1975 and worked at the orphanage with Mary Nelle Gage and Susan Carol McDonald. Although I was there for only five months, it was a transforming experience. It influenced my choices for further study and my work with trauma.
After graduate school in psychology and receiving my doctorate, I worked with the Department of Veterans Affairs with war veterans. I did individual, group and family therapy with these traumatized veterans. Most of my clients were Vietnam veterans; however, I worked with veterans from World War II, Korea, Persian Gulf and Afghanistan. Some of my clients experienced sexual trauma. It was a privilege to work with veterans for 29 years. It was difficult and rewarding work, and I miss it in retirement.
During my time at the Vet Center I transferred to co-membership.
I want my life to reflect a search for the Spirit within and without, knowing that this Mystery is within each person and in the world. I am excited about Loretto and the future of what we may create together.