Beth Artico & Judith Schwartz
Friends for Mission
Judith Schwartz and Beth Artico, hold a special place in their hearts for the Sisters of the Presentation. You might say Judy’s involvement with the Presentations is ‘in the genes.’ Her grandparents, Popo Pete (Henry, 1848-1942) and Momo Nan (Elizabeth Ann Loughlin, 1867-1945) Theis lived on West Hill in Dubuque most of their married lives in their home on Cleveland Avenue. Of their nine children, all except Teddy who died at two years old, attended St. Columbkille School. In addition, all the girls graduated from St. Vincent’s Academy and 13 of the 15 in the next generation were also educated by the Presentation Sisters.
Judy’s first memory of the sisters was in 1945, at the age of five, when she visited the convent to see the sisters’ home after her cousin Mimi Rastatter entered. She says, “I must have pestered my Mom to make me a habit too – and she did. I have this memory of being led into a room where many sisters were, so everyone could see me in my ‘sister outfit.’ Shy as I was, I would not open my eyes as everyone oohed and aahed at me, the ‘mini-sister!’”
“My experience with the Sisters of the Presentation continued when my brother Pete and I went to St. Columbkille School when our family lived in Dubuque, whether we were within the ‘bounds’ of that parish or not. My mom thought it was very important that we have some continuity in our lives, so we always went to the same school,” Judy states.
The Rastatter home on Rush Street, a few houses up the street from St. Columbkille parish and school, was the hub of many a Theis clan gathering – all were welcome. “Because we often lived further than walking distance, if I forgot my sack lunch, I knew I would always be welcome there. ‘Oh, have you come for lunch today?’ Mimi’s mother and my Aunt Bea would say, and set another place at the table. My Uncle Art worked at Roshek’s downtown, and would take the bus home for lunch. The first part of the meal we could talk; the last part we had to listen, and it was always listening to the noon broadcast of Paul Harvey. To this day, I can hear the broadcaster end, ‘Good Day!’”
In 1959, Judy’s family moved from Dubuque, and in 1962, Judy came back briefly to help her youngest aunt who had five children at home and a new baby soon to arrive. After a year, she moved to Western New York where she has been ever since.
Judy met Beth in 1986 at a women’s group meeting that soon morphed into a book club. “Beth taught me about charitable giving and the importance of giving back,” states Judy.
Beth expresses, “Judy and I want to support entities where we have connections. For us, there is not a better organization than the Sisters of the Presentation due to Judy’s history with them.”
Beth and Judy continue to be Presentation partners because they believe in the Presentation mission and their ministries. Both feel, “There are many organizations in the Western New York area who ask for and need support. We’ve been fortunate to be able to support them too, but our primary focus is supporting organizations where we have a personal connection. Our Presentation connection is both education-based and supportive of family involvement in charitable works.
When Sister Barbara Rastatter, Judy’s cousin and Mimi’s sister, began working at St. James Wabash in Chicago in social care and food pantry management, Beth and Judy’s support followed her there. Presently, Sister Janet Stelken continues Sister Barbara’s great work in social care at St. James. “We see our contributions make a difference. The Sisters of the Presentation have touched so many lives, both within the city, the surrounding areas, in Hispanic ministries and in the southern hemisphere.”
Photo: Left to right: Beth Artico and Judy Schwartz with their dog, Jazzy.