If you ever happen to catch yourself cruising down Military Ave. on a Thursday morning, don’t be shocked to see a flock of Servites camped out on the corner of Military and Aurora Dr.
The Servants of Mary devote an hour of their time to “witnessing” current issues every second Thursday of the month from 8 to 9:15 a.m.. Sr. Val Lewandoski said every individual of the group has been involved in some sort of activism since the very beginning, although their group only started in August of 2019.
“As long as there have been issues and injustices in the world, we’ve been working to put them to an end — and we’ll keep working towards that,” Lewandoski said.
Lewandoski has been involved in the act for decades and has acquired much experience.
“Back in the day, I was involved in protesting with the anti-war campaign. I was advocating for peace in the Vietnam War,” Lewandoski said.
Although the times have changed, there are still conflicts the religious women cannot ignore. “We are very much involved with the fight for the right treatment of immigrants, especially at the border [of the United States and Mexico]. We try to speak for all those suffering from racism, white supremacy or any kind of discrimination,” Sr. Margaret Stratman said.
Stratman even joked that the sisters are on a “first name basis” with their congresspeople, as they write to members of the Nebraska local government about other pressing topics such as climate change and human trafficking.
The sisters make an effort to advocate for all. When they stand out at the front entrance of campus, their presence, no matter rain or snow, symbolizes all in the community.
The group may receive the occasional dirty look, but the response to the group’s work has been mostly positive, with no interruption from local authorities.
“We mostly see people stare straight ahead in their cars as they pass us, but sometimes we get a thumbs up from someone or a wave,” Stratman said.
Sr. Nancy Marsh says that their group, although somewhat limited in size, encompasses the beliefs of the entire order. “Not all the sisters are physically able to stand outside with us, so we hold our signs up and make sure that we spread the message of all in our community. We also encourage the sisters that aren’t able to make it outside with us to pray inside our chapel as well,” Marsh said.
Marsh, resident sign-maker, says it feels good to contribute to the message.
“Everybody wants to be able to do something, and I can do what I can — getting the right words that will grab people…to make them turn their heads,” Marsh said.
All the sisters believe that they will always have a role in upholding the Social Justice teaching of the Catholic Church.
“They’re [the teachings] about being decent to people and preserving their rights. We’re all just doing our part in chipping away at the big issues,” Stratman said.