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Sister Antonia and Jose

In November, I got an email from an old classmate at Marycrest High School in Denver. She wrote:

I don’t know if you were at MHS when Sr. Antonia was teaching. We older classes had her for English and journalism. She was involved in a car accident last week and succumbed to her injuries over the weekend. I went to her prayer vigil at St. Dominic’s. I think you would have been interested in her life after Marycrest. She went on to become quite an activist in Mexico ultimately having to leave because there was a bounty on her head. She was never able to return. However, she became an activist in the Denver area for peace and justice. In the end, she wanted all life support removed and the money saved to be given to the poor.

Last week I got another email and learned more of the story. Two months later Jose Castillo Quintana, 22 years old, from Chihuahua, Mexico, was brought from the county jail to appear in front of a judge on charges of reckless driving resulting in the death of Sister Antonia Anthony and driving without a valid license.

Members of Sr. Antonia’s family had written letters asking for a sentence of community service rather than prison. They submitted them to the judge, who said that in all his years on the bench, he had never seen such mercy and meaningful forgiveness. He sentenced Quintana to 500 hours of community service, less the two months he had already spent in jail.

Jose’s 20-year old brother had been sitting behind the family in the court room. He and Sr. Antonia’s family ran into each other outside the courtroom. He was crying, and in a spontaneous gesture, Sr. Antonia’s nephew hugged him. Through the court interpreter Jose’s brother told her family how deeply saddened his own family is by what happened.

This story could have turned out so differently. Often, such stories do. It might be hard for someone who did not know her as a real person to believe that such generosity would come so easily.

Every morning of my high school years at Marycrest, Sr. Antonia and the rest of the Franciscan nuns led us school girls in the a capella singing, to a modern, almost atonal melody, of the Peace Prayer of St. Francis.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.


This was my first peace practice.

I am glad to have been raised by women who started their day this way, to have been taught by a woman whose obituary reads, “Sister Antonia spent her life passionately working with and advocating for the social concerns of people who lack access to basic resources, particularly Native Americans and Hispanics in Colorado, South Dakota, and Mexico.”

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About Katherine Power

I didn’t set out to be a terrorist. As a student activist, I moved from protesting the war in Viet Nam to waging guerrilla war to overthrow the government….

Recent and Upcoming Appearances and Publications
1/15/2014 Complexity and Social Change, Occupy Radio
10/31/2013 Surrender, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
10/25/2013 Surrender, Taos Community Theater, Taos, NM

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