Honoring a legacy of marchers in Selma, Ala.

Erik Lesser | Catholic News Service
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Sister Barbara Moore, CSJ, jumped right back into meetings and work March 10-11 after returning to St. Louis on the 9th, so there was no rest for the weary.

But the fatigue was well worth it. Sister Barbara spent five days in Selma, Ala., to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the voting rights marches led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

A native St. Louisan, Sister Barbara traveled to Selma in 1965 with a contingent from the Diocese of Kansas City answering Dr. King's call for the support of clergy after "Bloody Sunday."

"The whole weekend was wonderful; very enriching," Sister Barbara said.

Sister Barbara was among many St. Louisans making the 10-hour pilgrimage to Selma for the anniversary. Sister Antona Ebo, who was honored at the National Voting Rights Museum, attended and returned in time to lead the "Faith in Ferguson" prayer service March 10.

About a dozen members of the Vatterott family also attended. Family patriarch Charles F. Vatterott Jr. funded the Archdiocese of St. Louis delegation, including Sister Ebo, that flew to Selma in '65 to the march. He also funded the Kansas City group and Sister Barbara. He not only went with them but carried a suitcase of cash to use as bail money in case anyone was arrested.

His "wonderful" family, as Sister Barbara called them, attended "to honor the family legacy," Claire Vatterott Hundelt stated, adding the trip allowed the Vatterott clan to "learn more about our family's role in the civil rights efforts; to share those stories with the younger generations and re-commit our family to the promotion of civil rights both in St. Louis and in the nation."

Sister Barbara came home from Selma "very impressed" in seeing so many young people at the events -- high school and college students as well as families with children. She also was heartened to meet individuals who decided to travel to Selma on the spur of the moment.

"Just to be there," she said.

An ecumenical service at the Tabernacle Baptist Church and the National Voting Rights Museum proved to be emotional for Sister Barbara, as they usually are. Otherwise, she got to see the First Family and Congressman John Lewis, who nearly died on Bloody Sunday. "I think he's a saint," Sister Barbara said.

The culmination was Sunday, with a march over the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

"Crossing the bridge again was a great feeling and experience; it's always an important ritual," said Sister Barbara, who didn't get to cross the bridge in 1965 but has in subsequent anniversary visits. "It was a tiring few days, but there's something about being on the bridge and making it across ... 'I did it!'"

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