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Zita Telkamp, CDP

Sister Zita Telkamp is the program director at La Posada Providencia, a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of Divine Providence located in the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas. She has been in this position since 2009. La Posada was built as an emergency shelter for men, women, and families fleeing from political oppression, natural disasters, and poverty, who are seeking asylum in the United States. Under Sister Zita’s direction, the shelter, which operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, has dramatically expanded its capacity to serve its clients.

For Sister Zita, though, the ministry of education was where she felt most comfortable and where she spent 49 years. She was an elementary teacher and principal during that time, and her assignments included St. Mark in Venice, St. Mary in Brussels, St. Mary in Madison, and St. Francis/Holy Ghost School in Jerseyville. She also served in the Diocese of Jefferson City, Mo., and the Archdiocese of St. Louis. From 1995 to 2001, she served on the provincial council for the St. Louis Province. In 2007, Sister Zita was asked by the provincial to return to Pittsburgh, where she spent one year as the director of facilities. She recalls it being a great time to reconnect and get acquainted with all the Pittsburgh Sisters. After her year in Pittsburgh, she returned to St. Louis, where she accepted the challenge to step out of her comfort zone by ministering at Room at the Inn, a shelter for homeless women and families in St. Louis County and a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of Divine Providence. At the time, she said, “This ministry requires more of me and from me. It has made me more aware of the extent of the homelessness problem.” She remembers the time as a great experience. Sister Zita remained with Room until 2008, when she became interim program director at La Posada.

In 2013, Sister Zita was nominated for the Lumen Christi Award, which is presented yearly to an individual or group working in one of America’s mission dioceses who demonstrates how the power of faith can transform lives and communities. We are proud that Sister Zita was a finalist, which was accompanied by a $10,000 grant for La Posada’s ministry.

Of her work, Sister Zita says, “I am at peace no matter where or in what ministry I am invited by the Community to serve.”