Walking With Us: Servant Leader Anne Attea

A mother’s heart: Anne and Bela

by Dave Nimmer,* Guest Blogger

At a time when Latino communities throughout America are uneasy and uncertain over government travel bans and immigration crackdowns, Latinos at Ascension Catholic Church in North Minneapolis could be grateful for Anne Attea: She’s had their backs – every day, for the past nine years.

Her title is pastoral associate and she brings to the job a minister’s education, a missionary’s experience and a mother’s heart. She’s got a master’s of divinity from Loyola University-Chicago. She’s served in Mexico, Guatemala and Chile. She’s the mother of 11-year-old Isabela.

Attea’s mission at Ascension is to help Latino members grow in their Catholic faith, to develop new leaders, to provide access for families to a myriad of public and private assistance programs and, perhaps most important, to offer her prayerful support.

“I feel the stress that is in the air for our Latino community,” she says. “I want to be of help day to day. I can write letters for them. I can help them fill out paperwork.  I can help them find legal assistance when they need it. And, of course, I can pray with them.” — Anne Attea, Pastoral Associate at Church of the Ascension

Gerardo Escamilla Vargas, his wife and four sons are Ascension members. He owns a roofing and siding company – As Professionals, We Have You Covered – with 12 employees and is one of the 400 to 500 parishioners who attend the mass every Sunday for Spanish speakers. The mention of Attea’s name brings a smile to his face.

“She’s been like my mentor,” Escamilla Vargas says. “She teaches me about our faith. I like the way she lives hers. She’s a good leader who sees the God in all of us. And she helps without question.”

Attea knows her help, and her prayers, are needed now more than ever. She says Latino church members tell her that some people have become emboldened to say hurtful things and harbor racist thoughts about immigrants and those whose color and culture are different from their own.

“It’s the children who suffer the most,” she says. “They fear that when they get home from school, one of their parents could be missing (arrested or deported). Attea feels that immigration authorities are no longer just targeting criminals for deportation.

 “I am comforted to know [Anne Attea] is at Ascension, helping the community I care so much about.”– Sr. Mary Virginia Schmidt

“I feel the stress that is in the air for our Latino community,” she says. “I want to be of help day to day. I can write letters for them. I can help them fill out paperwork.  I can help them find legal assistance when they need it. And, of course, I can pray with them.”

Attea has developed that helping hand since she was an undergraduate at Notre Dame. She decided medicine was not for her and majored in theology, recalling that a course in “liberation theology” was eye opening.

She got a chance to put it in practice in Chile, in a volunteer program with Holy Cross Associates. “I worked in the town parish,” she says, “and I learned the Holy Cross fathers had a great commitment to the poor. I was 24 years old and got to do a little of everything: teaching, administering, serving whoever and wherever I could.”

Serving was just a part of Attea’s personal faith formation, shared and shaped by the Holy Cross Associates. The rest of the foundation included notions and admonitions of simplicity, social justice, spirituality and community. These are right out of the daily playbook of the Visitation Sisters of North Minneapolis. Attea met them in 1998 and ever since has been attending their Wednesday morning mass.

The Sisters are people who walk the talk,” she says. “They have included my daughter in some of their youth programs. They share their benefactors with us at the church. And I support their causes. Most important, I feel I am walking with them.

The Sisters have no doubt about that. “I remember when Anne first walked into our Wednesday mass,” says Sister Mary Virginia Schmidt. “She’s very caring and concerned, but I also sense her independence, combined with determination.”

“Those (qualities) are needed to help the Latino members at her church. Anne needs to help them get answers and assistance. I am comforted to know she’s at Ascension, helping the community I care so much about.”

Schmidt says she’ll never forget the day when Attea, who had wanted so badly to adopt a child, came into the monastery carrying Isabela in her arms. Attea adopted her daughter when she was just an infant in Guatemala. Isabela has a strong connection to her roots and may one day want to return to her native country. Here in the Twin Cities, she is doing well in school, fluent in two languages.

As for her own future, Attea is open to “wherever the spirit calls” her, perhaps in Latin America or in the Twin Cities.  “One thing is very clear to me,” she says. “I do feel called to walk with those who are struggling.”

In the life she’s lived so far, Anne Attea has had plenty of practice.

* This is the twelfth in a series of profiles by journalist Dave Nimmer featuring Visitation 
Companions and northside neighbors. We hope you enjoy these stories of our dear friends -- 
as they reflect the blessed community that surrounds the monastery and sustains us
 in our ministry of mutuality. 
LIVE + JESUS! 

Neighborhood Night of Peace: Tutus and so much more!

Jody Tigges, Vis Companion

Jody Tigges, Vis Companion

The following post comes to us from Vis Companion Jody Tigges. Jody wrote this reflective piece on the heels of her experience  volunteering at our Neighborhood Night of Peace event. We are happy to publish it here as part of our “Visitation Companions in Service” series. 

The Tutu Lady was at our Neighborhood Night of Peace again this year. She came bearing mountains of boxes of lovingly crafted tutus in a variety of colors.  I was drawn to the little girls of various ages standing at the edges of the boxes with eyes wide.

One small child stood near me in pink tennis shoes with sparkles all over them.

Tutu2“What color do you like?” I asked her.

“Pink,'” she whispered.

I looked among the tutus — all carefully wapped in tissue paper — and spotted a solid bright pink one.  Picking it up, I said, “Here is a tutu in pink, do you think you’d like this one?”

The little girl, possibly 5 or 6 years old, dropped all her prizes from the fish pond on the ground. She placed her hands on her cheeks and her voice quivered as she said, “Oh my gosh! Is this for me?”

“Yes, if you’d like to have it,” I replied.

“Oh, I’ve always wanted my very own tutu!” she exclaimed.

"Princess" tutus!

“Princess” tutus!

“Would you like to wear it?” I asked her.  She nodded in the affirmitive as together we worked to untie the ribbon from around the tissue paper.

As the paper fell away, she began to tremble with excitement. She gripped my legs as together we worked so she could step into her new skirt. A huge smile took its place on her face as she looked down at the tutu.

“Momma I finally have a princess tutu!” she said beaming.

Another volunteer said that she could shake it to get all the tulle to hang down properly.

The little girl stopped, did a little dance, thanked the tutu lady and skipped off alongside her mom.

For this little girl and many others ages 1 year to 12, Neighborhood Night of Peace was the night that dreams came true.

I smile as I think of how blessed I am to have been part of it all, tutus and so much more.

Neighborhood Night of Peace/ Noche de Paz: 8/07/2013

Our neighborhood night out is coming soon! ¡Pronto viene la noche de paz del vecindario!

Get to know your neighbors, and have fun!  ¡Vengan a conocer a los vecinos y diviértense!

NNOP Facepaint girlsEVERYONE  WELCOME!  ¡TODOS  SON  BIENVENIDOS!

  • Free food         •Comida gratis
  • Free games      •Juegos
  • Prizes              •Premios

Please bring a lawn chair!  ¡Favor de traer una silla portátil!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013 Miércoles, 7 de agosto, 2013

5:30 – 7 p.m.

Church of the Ascension  Iglesias de la Ascensión
(1723 Bryant Ave N)

Participating Organizations: Church of the Ascension, Visitation Monastery of Minneapolis, Basilica of Saint Mary, Turning Point, Cub Foods, Kemps, Ascension Place, & Our Lady of the Lakes church Mission Group (Spicer, MN). For more information, please call:  612-529-9684

Organizaciones paraticipantes: Iglesia de la Ascensión, Visitation Monastery of Minneapolis, Basilica of Saint Mary, Turning Point, Cub Foods, Kemps, Ascension Place, & Our Lady of the Lakes Church Mission Group (Spicer, MN). Para más información, llame:  612-529-9684.