Sister Roberta J. Schmidt 1928-2019

Sister Roberta Schmidt | May 5, 1928 - January 2, 2019

Please pray for the repose of the soul of Sister Roberta J. Schmidt, CSJ who passed away on Jan. 2 at the de Greeff Hospice House in St. Louis, Missouri. She was 90 years of age.

Sister Roberta J. Schmidt was born on May 9, 1928, in Kansas City, Missouri, to parents Ernest Louis and Florence (Noonan) Schmidt. She entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet on September 15, 1949, and was received into the novitiate as Sister Ernest Marie on March 19, 1950. She received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the College of St. Teresa (now Avila University) in 1949, a master’s in sociology from St. Louis University in 1958, and a doctorate in sociology from St. Louis University in 1964.

Sister Roberta spent the first 20 of her 68 years of ministry in education as a teacher and administrator throughout the archdiocese of St. Louis. From 1952 to 1956, she taught at St. Margaret of Scotland Grade School and St. Agnes Grade School, both in St. Louis; St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Florissant; and Valle High School in Ste. Genevieve, each for a year. She then taught at St. Anthony of Padua High School in St. Louis for five years. In 1961, she began working on her doctorate in sociology. While doing so, she served at Fontbonne College in St. Louis as a faculty member (1962-66) and as college president (1966-72).

After a year in transition, Sister Roberta moved to San Antonino, Texas, where she served for two years as an academic program officer for United Colleges of San Antonio. In 1975, she moved east to Cullman, Alabama. She was the Vice President for Academic Affairs at St. Bernard College/Cullman College for a year, and then became the Dean for Academic Affairs at Southern Benedictine College for three years. In 1979, she spent another year in transition, working on an archives special project.

For the next 13 years, Sister Roberta served in the Archdiocesan Education Office of Atlanta, Georgia. During her tenure there, she was the superintendent of Catholic schools (1980-82), secretary for education and superintendent (1982-89) and secretary for education (1989-1993). She then went on to serve the Diocese of Venice, Florida, as the director of education for 15 years.

In 1996, she moved back to St. Louis and was the provincial councilor for the St. Joseph Provincialate. She retired in 2008 to Venice, Florida, and served as a volunteer. In 2017, she returned to St. Louis and volunteered.

Selma Marches
Sister Roberta was also one of the first six religious women who answered Dr. Martin Luther King's call to be a part of the civil rights movement. On March 10, 1965, she, along with other Catholic priests and nuns from all denominations, marched for days from Brown Chapel in Selma, Alabama, to the courthouse in Montgomery, Alabama to voice their support.

"The presence of priests, religious and the laity impacted the peaceful march for voting rights positively," says Sister Roberta Schmidt. "We gave Christian witness to the dignity of our African-American brothers and sisters in Selma."

Funeral Arrangements
A Memorial Mass will be held Friday, Jan. 11 at 10:30 a.m. at Nazareth Living Center, located at 2 Nazareth Lane, St. Louis, MO 63129.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, St. Louis Province, 6400 Minnesota Ave., St. Louis, MO 63111-2899. Donate online.