Spotlight on Loretto Wisdom Women – July 2023
Editor’s note: We are featuring interviews of Loretto Community elders. We are grateful to these wise women and to Joy Jensen for sharing wonderful snapshots of our beloved Community members.
This month’s feature highlights Maureen Fiedler, Peg Jacobs and Joy Jensen.
The Loretto Living Center at Loretto Motherhouse is home to interesting Loretto Community elders. The purpose of this series is to shine a spotlight on the lives of resident elders, women of wisdom. As the interviewer, Joy gave each person two questions ahead of time to think about:
1) What was your favorite mission, ministry or job before you retired?
2) What is important to you at this time of your life?
Maureen Fiedler was direct. “My favorite job was being a radio host on public radio, and I founded a radio show called ‘Interfaith Voices.’ We were broadcast on 40 stations nationwide, even in Alaska and Hawaii. It lasted for 17 years. I had people of all faith traditions and no faith tradition. I had atheists and agnostics as well as Jews, Catholics, Hindus, Muslims and many others.”
When asked what is important to her today, Maureen said, “I think the Loretto Community is important to me now, and prayer and a good card game. I am glued to the news, especially political news.”
Eleanor Craig and the Archives provided information about Peg Jacobs. She was raised in Cincinnati, and shared, “Our parents and grandparents were staunch conservative Presbyterians.” Early in her senior year at college, “I met Bob Jacobs, the man I would marry shortly before graduation.” During the period 1963 to 1972, “I found myself drawn more and more into human-relations training. These events became important as I was helped to identify and legitimize my own feelings and to reflect on my own, or a group’s, experience, theologically. During this great decade of the 1960s, I met Mary Luke Tobin when I was the only Protestant attending a conference at the Grail. I would tag this event as the beginning of my interest in and connection to Catholic communities. One person whose writing captured my thinking was Elaine Prevallet —particularly the little pamphlet ‘Interconnections’ published by Pendle Hill.”
Peg became a Loretto co-member and later moved to the Motherhouse. She worked for Anthony Mary Sartorius, the coordinator, as Community photographer. Always fearless, Peg loved bungee jumping.
What was important to her? “The 1960s brought many occasions for social protest and action against racism in Boston. During these times I found impetus for my actions in the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, ‘Act and belief will come.’ That indeed began to happen for me during those turbulent times in Boston and beyond.”
Joy Jensen remembers that her favorite job was working as a community organizer beginning in 1988 at a Black Catholic church in North St. Louis. She says, “I began working with the tenant board at Blumeyer Public Housing next door to the church to address maintenance and other issues with the St. Louis Housing Authority. I asked the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for pertinent documents; I received 570 documents to prepare a case against the housing authority. We were successful, and that was when I started working with HUD and the senators’ offices. In 1992 I testified about public housing issues before the U.S. Senate subcommittee on housing. We also established a housing corporation in the neighborhood and utilized HUD funding. When the performing arts center to the south wanted to gentrify part of our parish neighborhood, I was enlisted to assist. I received help from an urban planner, and as I learned about eminent domain and redevelopment planning, I taught the affected residents. We hired a feared woman zoning lawyer. We won the case.
“Time for prayer is the most important thing to me now. Then there is my reading: American history, study in scripture, contemporary theology and spirituality. And I love to knit. However, the Loretto Community is very important to me now and how we move into the future.”