A journey towards justice

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Thursday 21, February 2008 | Category:   Consecrated Life

In 1964 Sister Lois Aceto, a Racine Dominican sister, had been teaching in that Wisconsin city for 14 years when her order gave her the opportunity to fulfill her dream as a foreign missionary: After spending five months in Lima, Peru learning Spanish, she and three other Dominican sisters went to Bolivia. The group had no specific instructions and “didn’t even have a place to stay,” Aceto told Racine Journal Times reporter Marci Laehr Tenuta. “I went there kind of naive about many things.”

After the sisters spent a period riding the buses of La Paz, Aceto started teaching religion in the public schools. There she organized high school and college students to work on justice-related issues—a delicate matter in a country then governed by a dictatorship. “You can’t talk against the government without getting arrested, which I was twice,” she said
Aceto also started a small library and hospital and a school for the blind, a task for which she learned Braille. Other activities included keeping young people out of brothels. “Boy, was that an education, let me tell you,” she said. “I’m always doing things I’m not prepared to do.”

Traveling outside La Paz, Aceto established an outpatient clinic for people with no medical care. She supervised orphanages and started a group for street children called New Hope. “It was beautiful,” she said. “It’s still going, by the way.” In an effort to be better prepared for her ministry, she even went to Madrid to study medicine.

When her father became seriously ill in 1981, Aceto returned to the United States. But she didn’t stop working on justice issues. She became involved in local programs like Restorative Justice and the Conflict Resolution Center housed at Neighborhood Watch, of which she is the director and where she trains others to be mediators and teaches conflict resolution in area prisons.

Aceto recently published a book, Journeying toward Justice, that recounts her time in Bolivia. “I feel driven to share my story,” she writes in the book. “For this is not merely one woman’s story: It symbolizes many of us—unknown, perhaps to all but a few—but people earnest, zealous, dedicated to serving God in the way we feel called, to engaging ourselves in the struggle for peace and justice in the world.”

Aceto says her work in Bolivia “changed me completely. I loved it, every minute of it. It taught me how to rely on the providence of God. You learn how to walk with God, all the time.”

Journeying toward Justice is available at



Reprinted with permission from PrepareTheWord.com. ©TrueQuest Communications.




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