Sister Betty Obal, SL

November 7, 2018

Sister Betty Obal, SL

Feb. 17, 1943-Oct. 12, 2018

Sister Betty Obal, of Columbus, died Friday, Oct. 12, 2018, at the Loretto Motherhouse in Nerinx, Kentucky.

A wake service was held on Wednesday, Oct. 17, and the funeral service on Thursday, Oct. 18, at the Loretto Motherhouse Church in Nerinx, Kentucky. Memorials can be sent to St. Bonaventure Church, 1565 18th Ave., Columbus, NE 68601.

Betty Obal was born on Feb. 17, 1943, in Columbus, to Thomas and Cecilia (Korus) Obal. She attended elementary school at St. Bonaventure in Columbus, and graduated from St. Bonaventure High School in Columbus. Betty attended the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology in 1976. Betty attended the Catholic Theological Union University in Chicago, earning a MTS in Theology in 1989.

Betty worked with Frontier Airlines for six years in the flight control center, where it required her to be able to handle stress and make quick, pragmatic decisions, with virtually no margin for error. With Frontier she had the opportunity to travel to many places, experiencing many people and cultures.

Betty lived her first year with Loretto at the Bridge Community in Denver, a home where residents included Sisters of Loretto and women with disabilities. During that year, Betty took training as a nurse’s aide and worked in a hospice program. In September 1984, Betty was received into the Loretto Community as a novice; no longer was there either a habit or a new name to mark the transition, but she did move into the Convent Community at Loretto Motherhouse. Completing her “canonical year,” during which she took classes at the intercommunity novitiate in Cincinnati, Betty moved to Chicago and enrolled in the Master of Theology program and Chicago Theological Union.

For eight years, from 1985-1993, Betty lived in Chicago, earning both a Masters in Theology and a Masters of Divinity at CTU. She lived in a variety of settings, and worked full-time and part-time in an even wider variety of situations; the Catholic Worker in Uptown, where her roommate was “Love, whose string of expletives could redden the face of the unabashed”; the Shelter of God’s Love, where Betty was associate director of alternative housing for women with varieties of disabilities; the Institute of Women Today Sister House, an ecumenical group founded by Margaret Ellen Traxler, SSND, where upwards of 15 to 20 female ex-offenders, religious sisters, teachers, and homeless people shared community. In these eight years, Betty initiated the Accessibility Project with Loretto Venture Fund monies, a study which resulted in improved policies and standards in the Chicago Archdiocese for inclusion of persons with disabilities. She also did substitute teaching in several Chicago area school districts whenever other paid work was unavailable.

Betty completed the MDiv in June 1993, and celebrated her final vows as a Sister of Loretto at the General Assembly in Keystone, Colorado, on July 3, 1993. She hoped to find a job in Chicago or elsewhere as a pastoral assistant. Instead, early in 1995, Betty moved to New York City, serving at the United Nations for nine years in Loretto’s NGO office, first as assistant to Nancy Finneran, then as the lead representative. In 2005, Betty spent time in transition, and then settled in Denver, entering into the same varieties of service to underserved persons as she had offered in Chicago. She was a volunteer for the Colorado Department of Corrections and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. She also returned to Nebraska for extended periods with family. The last several years with cancer, Betty has courageously sought life with great enthusiasm.

She is survived by her sister Delores “Dee” Jacobs of Kent, Washington; a brother, Thomas “Tom” Obal of Columbus; and brother-in-law, Dick Erickson of Hurricane, Utah; along with numerous nieces and nephews.

She is preceded in death by her parents, Thomas and Cecilia (Korus) Obal; her brother, Joseph Obal; sisters, Joann Obal and Roberta “Bobby” Erickson.

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