Sister Stephanie Marie—from prayers to positive actions
May 21, 2015 | posted by Laura Carter
Sister Stephanie Marie -- from prayers to positive actions
Sister Stephanie Marie Martinez performs several different roles in her job at Blessed Sacrament Academy (BSA). She returned to BSA from other assignments in 1992 to serve as administrative assistant. She has since added grant writer, alumni relationship builder, donation record keeper and inveterate prayer warrior.She teaches Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) at Mission San José, loves to cook, has a joyous laugh and a welcoming heart.
Stephanie was born in Hobson, the daughter of migrant workers. Because of her parents’ work, the family traveled to many places around the United States. She was encouraged by her mother to go to school and entered the first grade at the age of eight in Falls City. At that time, many of the public school teachers in Cuero and Falls City were members of the Congregation of the Incarnate Word Blessed Sacrament. “The thing that struck me about the Sisters was their compassion,” Sister Stephanie says. “Sister Marian specifically laid the seeds for my entering the convent. After my brother returned from Viet Nam in 1967, I joined her in Victoria to begin my life as a postulant in the order.”
Sister Stephanie taught during the day and attended the University of the Incarnate Word, St. Mary’s University, and Our Lady of the Lake in the evenings and on Saturdays, graduating from UIW with a major both in English and Spanish. Her very first teaching assignment was Blessed Sacrament Academy in 1971, which at that time was an all-girls school. She easily developed a good rapport with the young women, and was challenged to extend that relationship building to their parents. This was the beginning of her community outreach efforts. Subsequently teaching in schools across Texas including Cuero and Shiner, and Victoria she continued her task of developing parental involvement at each school.
“In the late 70’s in San Antonio, I had the opportunity to meet some of the first great Spurs players, Cesar Chavez, and went to the airport to welcome Mother Teresa, “Sister Stephanie reminisced. “I also worked the phone banks for Glen Hartman and Lila Cockrell when they campaigned for City Council.” Continuing her inclination for community involvement, she left the classroom in 1988 to establish a grass-roots organization with Sister Odilia and Sister Marian in Victoria — Gulf Coast Organizing Effort (GCOE). Through GCOE, they worked to make systemic change in public services for people who needed help with education, medical care and/or social services. Her work in ’91-’92 with the El Paso Interreligious Sponsoring Organization (EPISO) included advocating for fair wages, reasonable working hours and the safety of women and girls from Mexico who were employed in El Paso factories.
“If we pray for those less fortunate, or for change in the way society is reacting to an issue, we need to back it up with positive actions,” she explains. “God has given each of us a special gift, this is one of mine and I didn’t want to squander it. This activity represents my prayers in action.”
At the request of Sister Odilia, Sister Stephanie extended her relationship building efforts to include BSA graduates and former students. She now happily facilitates 50th year reunions for high school graduates and other correspondence to all alumni. “I want all the former students of BSA to know we pray for them daily and hope to meet you,” Sister Stephanie says. “We extend an invitation for you to come visit and share your stories of how BSA — the Sisters, teachers and education—impacted your life.”
Sister Stephanie Marie Martinez can be contacted at 210.532.4731 or [email protected]