The Most Reverend Daniel E. Flores, STD, Bishop of Brownsville, has nominated Zita Telkamp, CDP, program director of La Posada Providencia, for the 2013 Lumen Christi Award. Every year, Catholic Extension’s Lumen Christi Award honors an individual or group working in one of America’s mission dioceses who demonstrates how the power of faith can transform lives and communities. Lumen Christi recipients are the hidden heroes in our midst. They bring light and hope to the forgotten corners of our country and inspire those around them to be the “Light of Christ” as well.
Sister Zita has brought light and hope to the clients of La Posada Providencia since becoming its program director in 2009, and has inspired the “Light of Christ” in others. An emergency shelter for men, women and families who flee to the United States due to political oppression, natural disaster, and other life-threatening actions in their native countries, La Posada Providencia has provided resettlement assistance for nearly 6,000 people from more than 70 countries since 1989. It is a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of Divine Providence, a community of Roman Catholic women religious, operating in the United States and Caribbean (the Marie de la Roche Province), Germany, Korea, and Peru.
As program director, Sister Zita oversees the development and delivery of La Posada Providencia’s services, the shelter’s fiscal and operational management, and staff and volunteer activities for the shelter program, which operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Sister Zita’s leadership has fostered a community rooted in social justice where collective needs are balanced with values that ascribe compassion, justice and peace for the individual. Her leadership also demonstrates the value of being good stewards of God’s creation and how we can all live more sustainably on our planet.
Sister Zita possesses more than 40 years of administration and elementary/secondary education work experience (teacher and principal) and holds a Missouri lifetime teaching certificate. In addition, Sister Zita has more than 15 years of management experience, the result of holding executive positions for her religious community’s provincial operations in St. Louis, Mo., and Pittsburgh, Pa., in addition to her tenure as the program director of La Posada Providencia. She holds a bachelor of arts degree in theology from St. Louis University (St. Louis, Mo.) and a master’s degree in education administration from Dayton University (Dayton, Ohio).
In his nomination letter, Bishop Flores stated, “Under Sister Zita’s care, the residents at La Posada are provided access to the services they need for their next resettlement step and are encouraged to embrace the notion that they can achieve successful futures with hard work and their inherent skills. Welcoming the stranger is a Gospel value that is practiced daily at this haven for those without a home. I am most grateful to the Congregation of the Sisters of Divine Providence and Sister Zita for their commitment to the poor.”
The Sisters of Divine Providence is an international community of women religious numbering nearly 700. They are women of varied and diverse backgrounds and talents united by a deep trust in a Provident God who loves and cares for all creation.