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Sister Spotlight: Sister Odessa Stanford,SFCC.

Updated: Jan 17, 2023

Finding God in Everything

I am honored and grateful to share my excitement about my new role in sustaining Catholic education in an urban school setting as a member of the Jesuit School Network. I am the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Director for Cristo Rey Jesuit College Prep in Houston, TX. As we all know too well, how the Pandemic has impacted education throughout America. This network of schools is still relatively young in its mission to provide an affordable, private, Catholic high school education and a clear path to college for our students. Our students achieve this through a rigorous academic curriculum and an innovative Corporate Work-Study Program that places students in Houston businesses and nonprofits where they earn up to 50 percent of the cost of their education.

The mission is to deliver a powerful and innovative approach to education that equips students with the knowledge, character, and skills to achieve their goals as students and future citizens. The vision is to inspire and prepare students with limited economic resources to succeed in college and lead their communities as compassionate, committed, and competent men and women for others for the greater glory of God. I feel like Jesus has been preparing me for this position as a servant school leader, and the timing could not be better. As a school leader in managing and implementing DEI, I hope to be a light for building better relations and bridging gaps within our communities. More importantly, my most significant focus is helping pre-young adults to become leaders and professionals that will impact true justice and hope for our democratic society. As I write this, I'm reminded of my desire as a member of the Drexel Society Houston Chapter to support the Spirit of St. Katharine Drexel to educate our people as viable citizens in the Church and this country.

As a Sister for Christian Community, my pastoral ministry is serving as a member of the South-Central Region formation team. I am a trained Spiritual Director, and this year my supervisor at our local SDI asked me to become a supervisor for two newly trained directors. Also, I am part of the spirituality team for Cristo Rey Jesuit, allowing me to continue my development as a spiritual leader and speaker for evangelization. I am a member of the Sisters in the Spirit Houston. I will always honor these women and Sr. Bea Jeffries for modeling the character and integrity of what it means to be and to live as a Black Catholic faithful woman for Jesus. Also, I am grateful for the Society of the Sacred Heart and Ms. Charolette T. Davis (my decease godmother) as my mentors during my discernment period to grow and learn the Catholic faith before I became a Catholic and a religious sister.

During the Pandemic, I decided with a mutual friend to study online as a student for IBCS in New Orleans, and what a gift I received. I liked it so much; I tried it in person this past summer. I highly recommend anyone interested in Black Catholic history attend IBCS and get a blessing beyond measure. Before I left Texas to attend the Institute, I received a surprise call asking me to consider serving a three-year term on the USCCB Subcommittee on African American Affairs. This subcommittee and four others comprise the Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church.

In closing, I ask for your prayers as I continue my commitment to the NBSC. My fantastic journey as a religious for 15 years from the entrance. I love each one of you for who you are, why you are, and your willingness to witness all of God's children in the service that you all render so generously

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