A Valentine on OB's Sweethearts

For Valentine’s Day, we thought it would be fitting to give you an update on OB’s beloved First Ladies - Sister Corita and Sister Berta.  They are comfortable in their own home this winter, with their daughter, Yauti. (As long as the heat is set on 80!)

     All things considered, they are both in good health. No hospitalizations or ER visits in nearly two years. (Knock wood!) They have 7 dedicated caregivers who take turns covering all 24 hours of the day, 7 days a week, so Yauti and the sisters always have someone watching over their physical safety, their medication, their meals and their overall well-being. The caregivers are “assisted” by two dogs that rarely leave the sisters’ sides. Sister Corita shares her seat with Lady, a Rottweiler mix, while Hershey, a chocolate lab, stays glued to Sister Berta.

     Currently, Sister Corita is engrossed in the Olympics, the NBA and college basketball. Sister Berta enjoys CNN and listening to her caregiver read aloud. Recent favorites include Just Mercy, a bestseller about the American justice system, and Plenty Ladylike, by Sen. Claire McCaskill.

     Nothing pleases them more than time with their children – the ones they actually adopted and the one-time foster children whom they still consider family. Their older son works nearby and often spends his lunch hour with them. The sisters were able to get out a couple of times last fall to watch their younger son play football for St. Michael the Archangel, where he is a senior. Their younger daughter is captain of the JV basketball team at Sion, where she is a junior, and the nuns have attended some of her games as well.

      They both celebrated birthdays in December - Sister Corita’s 84th and Sister Berta’s 81st – with a bash at Waldo Pizza. They were honored on Election Day with the lifetime achievement award for Civility by Consensus. Both were in attendance at the award ceremony by 7:25 a.m., no easy feat with two wheelchairs and one nun who likes to stay up until 2 a.m.! They were also on hand when the story of their journey, Angels with Angles: The Rogue Nuns Behind Operation Breakthrough, by Loring Leifer, won the Thorpe Menn Prize, the top local literary award given by the American Association of University Women.

      As you can see from the photos, the sisters enjoy holding court in the OB lobby - giving and getting kisses from moms and children. They toured Operation Breakthrough’s new building, the old Jones Store across the street, just before it closed for renovation and were duly awed by the space and the opportunities it holds. Sister Berta, who speaks less these days but still gets her point across, told Steve, the construction foreman:  "You have a lot of work to do!" As the weather gets warmer, we will see more of the sisters at OB. They will soon need to brush up on their ribbon-cutting skills to be ready to open that bridge we’re building across Troost. Seeing our children skip across that old dividing line to a building full of educational opportunities will be a dream come true for this pair.

     For now, they are both pretty content, as long as they don’t run out of Twinkies and nobody touches the thermostat. On this Feb. 14, they send you their love and thanks for keeping your arms around OB.