As Jesus was sent by the Father in the power of the Spirit, so we are sent as Sisters of the Living Word. We reflect and affirm the Word in the World, the Word, who continually frees the oppressed and gives new life. (SLW Mission Statement)
The Sisters of the Living Word are collaborating with the Viatorians to help settle a Syrian refugee family. More than 250,000 people have died in the Syrian civil war, and more than 6 million have fled as refugees.Get Involved
The Sisters of the Living Word (SLW) along with the Illinois Commission on Diversity and Human Relations (ICDHR) have partnered to bring leaders in the Northwest Suburbs together for discussions on race, Bridging the Black/White Divide.Get Involved
Rooted in the Word, We are impelled to be God’s language, Transforming the world we lean into life’s unfolding revelation.
We advocate passionately for the voiceless, risking uncharted paths. We listen in contemplative silence, attending to the call of
Simplicity and presence. We weave a network of connections among diverse peoples and in dissonant situations. (SLW Vision Statement)
As part of the celebration of Consecrated Life on February 5, several of the Sisters of the Living Word, renewed their vows at the 10 a.m. Mass at St. James in Arlington Heights, IL. Afterwards they continued the celebration with a luncheon. Mary Ann Zrust, SLW and …
Sister Agnes Martinka, SLW 1927-2017
Those of us who know both Sister Agnes and the movie The Sound of Music, might see a resemblance in the two women – Agnes and Maria. “How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?” We know that the moon reflects the light of the sun. To Agnes, her God was the sun and her life was about reflecting her God’s light.
Agnes began life in Lucan, Minnesota to her parents Agnes and Herbert Martinka on May 13, 1927. She was baptized Joan Marie five days later; received her First Communion at seven and was confirmed at twelve. During these years her two younger brothers, Jerome and Robert joined the family. At age thirteen Joan Marie’s mother died. This impacted Joan Marie her entire life. It would also strengthen the bond between herself, her father, brothers and grandmother.
The young family moved to New Ulm, Minnesota where the children attended the local Catholic School. Joan Marie’s education went well beyond the classroom’s four walls. Her father was an avid harness racer. Joan Marie would accompany her father to the various tracks – super proud that she could drive one of the vehicles. Herbert also owned a ballroom – the Kato Ballroom – a popular weekend gathering place for music and dancing.
During her teenage years, Joan Marie began to feel the call by her God to enter religious life. This was fostered by her grandmother but not so much by her dad. It was a difficult decision to leave her family, especially her younger brothers. Dad tried right up to the end to dissuade Joan Marie from entering the convent with the promise of flying lessons. While Joan Marie would have been happy to add that to her resume the call from her God was stronger.
Joan Marie entered the Sisters of Christian Charity July 11, 1945; was invested August 21, 1946, receiving the name Sister Agnes; made profession August 21, 1948 with final profession August 20, 1954.
Sister Agnes began her teaching career in Grades 3 and 4 at St. Gregory School in Chicago, Illinois; moved to St. Martha School in Morton Grove, Illinois and then took time off for Nurses Training and to finish her BA degree in education. From 1957 to 1967 Sister Agnes was a teacher (4 years) and principal of St. Theresa School in Palatine, Illinois. During her time as principal the school almost tripled in size. O’Hare Airport was being built and many workers moved into the area.
Sometime in the course of these years Herbert remarried. It was not customary for young sisters to have a home visit. However, Herbert was not taking “No” for an answer. He said, “I’m getting married and I want my daughter there.” And so she was! Dad had promised that if she became a superior he would buy her a car. So, in 1961 when she was appointed superior at St. Theresa dad was true to his word. He drove up to the convent in a blue Cadillac. It was quite the conversation starter!
Between the principalship of St. Theresa and St. Isaac Jogues in Niles, Illinois, Sister Agnes received her Masters in Education and Supervision.
Vatican II brought many changes for religious communities and the church. Some of them were cosmetic and others touched the very core of who we are as followers of Christ. In 1975, after much prayer, soul searching and planning Sister Agnes joined 89 of her religious community in the founding of a new community, the Sisters of the Living Word.
Sister Agnes shared her experience and love of religious life in discussions, committees, assemblies, and as a spiritual director. She continued her ministry in education as principal at St. Mary Magdalen in Metairie, Louisiana and at St. John Ireland in Hopkins, Minnesota. (Sister Agnes had moved to Minnesota in 1991 to be near her elderly dad.) Her retirement years 1998-2017 were spent volunteering — over two hundred hours in hospital ministry, mentoring teachers and working in the school and parish offices. She continued her ministry in community also by co-coordinating Associates of the Sisters of the Living Word in the Minnesota area.
Sister Agnes was a combination of a nurturing mother and a tough love guardian. She was a forward looking educator because she was a life-long learner. In her total enjoyment of life she was child. This was balanced by her take charge manner. Her interests embraced people, architecture, the universe, her God, her community, her family, her church.
The thousands of lives she touched in her 89 plus years are a testament to a woman who was a free spirit and who was able to help free others.