Sister Mary Angelo Lobato, RSM

May 15, 1923 ~ June 26, 2020

A TEACHER, COLLEGE INSTRUCTOR, ARTIST, ADVOCATE FOR SOCIAL
EQUALITY, AND A SISTER OF MERCY FOR 78 YEARS

Sister Mary Angelo (Angie) Lobato was born in a small Spanish Mission of San Isidro, Colorado, to parents Juan and Sabina (Madrid) Lobato. She recalled a happy childhood dedicated to hard labor in the fields. At the age of six, she began school with the Sisters of Mercy in San Luis. She was so deeply impacted by her first-grade teacher, Sister Grace Lucian, that she came home from school and told her mother, “Someday, I am going to be a Sister of Mercy.” She entered the community at the age of 18 at Mount Loretto in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Sister Angie’s first ministry was teaching. For 20 years, she taught primary, intermediate, and junior high students in Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska; Kansas City, Missouri; Raton, New Mexico; and Grass Valley, California. Upon receiving a master’s in fine arts in 1961, she taught art at College of Saint Mary in Omaha for 10 years.

“These are my people…there is a very special tie that draws me to anyone of Spanish or Mexican descent.”

But Sister Angie’s heart longed to be of service among the Hispanic/Mexican people. In 1968, she wrote the Mother General in Washington, D.C., requesting to serve in Chile. Sister Angie explained, “These are my people…there is a very special tie that draws me to anyone of Spanish or Mexican descent.” Her application was not accepted.

Undaunted, two years later she wrote again requesting the opportunity to do social work among the Spanish speaking people in Pueblo, Colorado. She was finally granted permission to return to her home state of Colorado in 1971 to serve at Sacred Heart Parish in Alamosa, which is not far from San Luis. Her parish work included coordinating the religious education program and serving as director of the Visitors of Christ program. She was also the first woman elected to the Alamosa City Council.

It was through the Visitors of Christ program that Sister Angie established La Puente (The Bridge) Home. Consisting of temporary housing for persons moving from a crisis situation to stable living, it was a unique ministry for the time. Her success soon drew the attention of the Generalate. She was presented the prestigious Cunningham Award by Sister Theresa Kane in 1983, an award that recognizes works of Mercy promoting social equality.

Sister Angie left Colorado in 1987 for San Francisco, California, where she was director of Catholic Charities of San Francisco. There, she opened the Rita da Cascia House, which consisted of transitional housing for homeless families with AIDS.

Then in 2003, Sister Angie was off to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she served 13 years as an active member of St. Joseph on the Rio Grande Parish. With boundless energy, she visited homebound parishioners weekly with the Eucharist. She was also a volunteer driver for Catholic Charities. 

Sister Angie made many friends in New Mexico. This resulted in a surge of Mercy Associates, which continues to be one of the larger areas of concentrated Associates in the country. When she celebrated her 75th Jubilee in 2016, her friends said she was “87 going on 35.” Sister Sharon Ford, Sister Angie’s Personal Contact who accompanied her on that trip, said, “Everywhere we went, people of all ages expressed their gratitude for her presence in their lives.” Shortly after her Jubilee celebration, Sister Angie returned to Omaha to live with her community. 

According to Sister Petra Chavez who lived with Sister Angie in California, “When the less fortunate were treated unfairly, especially for no good reason, Angie felt compelled to ‘put on her mercy.’ La Puente is one example of how she got involved in her various ministries. It was an unusually harsh winter, even for Alamosa. There were regular reports of homeless persons found dead in the encampments under the bridge or by the river. Angie requested the use of a large abandoned house in her neighborhood. It belonged to the city, but the city council denied her request. So, Angie organized a group of volunteers to clean the house that was occupied by birds and other critters. Neighbors donated beds, bedding, and other furniture. Food and volunteer cooks came next. With no money to speak of, La Puente opened its door to a full house of homeless families and daily meals for any homeless person. Today,  it has the support of local residents as well as the Alamosa City Council.”

“When the less fortunate were treated unfairly, especially for no good reason, Angie felt compelled to ‘put on her mercy.'”

Sister Claudette Schiratti said, “Sister Mary Angelo loved everyone. We lived together while we taught at CSM.  She was a wonderful teacher, and she was much loved by her students. I had the opportunity to visit her in San Francisco when she and Sister Petra lived in the Mission District.  Again, Angie spread Mercy to all there. What a loving, gentle soul she was to all!”

Although Sister Ana María Pineda lived in the San Francisco Bay Area around the same time as Sister Angie was there, it was in Omaha where they met. With Spanish as their native language, the two quickly struck up a friendship. “I was blessed to know Sister Angie in her later years as the wisdom she gleaned from her ministries became even more profound,” says Sister Ana María. The two engaged in deep conversations, with Sister Angie often playing with words and phrases in English and Spanish. In fact, she was the one who Sister Ana María quoted as saying, “¡El tiempo es precioso y yo también!” (Time is precious and so am I!)