sister elizabth peplow
July 10, 1937 - March 29, 2011
Sister Liz did her thing live and in living color! Everyone who has been touched by her life in any way is better for the experience.
Sister Elizabeth Peplow began her earthly life on July 10, 1937, the second child of Walter and Theoclete Peplow. S. Liz, her sisters Madeline and Sue, and brother “Ted” were always proud of their roots in Peoria, Ill. where S. Liz attended grammar school and the Academy of Our Lady High School. When S. Liz realized she had a religious vocation she followed her older sister, Madeline, to the Sisters of St. Joseph in St. Louis in 1956.
S. Liz’s early years in the community were spent teaching in primary grades but without the benefit of ever being in the juniorate—for which S. Liz was forever grateful—or of any practice teaching. But, as she did in all things, S. Liz did her best. In the early 1960s, S. Liz was sent to teach at St. Edward’s in North St. Louis. This was S. Liz’s first experience of the black community and it was a mission that was to change her life and set the stage for her ministry over the next four decades.
An experience with a student at St. Edwards coupled with her reading Gabriel Moran’s book, Toward an Adult Church, led to S. Liz’s transition from teaching children to working with adults in parish ministry. Her first mission as a pastoral associate was at Sts. Mary and Joseph’s in the mid 1960s where she met Fr. Ed Feuerbacher who would become a close friend, mentor and colleague. From there S. Liz went to Blessed Sacrament parish where Fr. Ed was newly assigned as pastor. Working collaboratively with Fr. Ed and others, S. Liz helped to realize the dream of empowering and calling forth leadership in the black Catholic community of St. Louis. This dream became reality in 1978 with the creation of the St. Charles Lwanga Center that works to promote Christian spiritual formation and leadership development within the African-American Catholic Community. S. Liz served as the center’s first executive director.
After more than 20 years as pastoral associate at Blessed Sacrament and then St. Dominic Savio parishes, S. Liz moved on to become director of development and programming for Nia Kuumba Spirituality Center, a house of discernment for African-American women in St. Louis. In 2009, S. Liz’s love and concern for African people took on a whole new dimension when she became associated with Microfinancing Partners in Africa (MPA). In her work with MPA S. Liz had the opportunity to travel to Africa on two different occasions. With each experience she became more deeply connected with and touched by the people she met there and returned with a more profound love for and commitment to the African people.
In addition to her “formal” ministries, S. Liz served God’s people in many informal ways as well. For example, S. Liz became a certified capicitar facilitator some years ago. Like all else that S. Liz did for people, capicitar teaches simple wellness practices, team building and self-development to awaken people to their own wisdom, strength and resources. She faithfully took those capicitar skills and practices to folks at Nazareth Living Center and to the Mary Ryder Home in St. Louis. In addition, S. Liz served on the boards of agencies such as Pillar Place and Cardinal Ritter Senior Services. Most recently, S. Liz was a member of the Board of Trustees of Fontbonne University. S. Liz had a particular passion for Fontbonne and in her role as a board member she made a significant contribution in developing the role of mission integration at the university. She served as the first chairperson of the Mission Integration Committee.
S. Liz was a student of theology all her life. She was very proud of her master’s degree in theology that she earned from the University of Notre Dame in 1971. She believed deeply in the reforms called for by Vatican II and was a reformer in her own right as she spoke up about every injustice she encountered in the church even as she remained faithful to the church. S. Liz was a theologian because she helped us all to reflect on the question: what difference does our faith make in our real lives? S. Liz was a teacher and a witness who answered that question with her graced and committed life.
Our dear sister, we bid you farewell:
You were born to make manifest the glory of God within all of us: It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone! And as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. (Marianne Williamson)
S. Kathleen O’Malley
S. Jean deBlois