Marie Gatza, January 31st, 2017
WW: Hello. Today is January 31, 2017. My name is William Winkel. This interview is for the Detroit Historical Society's Detroit 67 Oral History Project. And I am sitting down with—
MG: Sister Marie Gatza.
WW: Thanks so much. And we are in Monroe, Michigan.
MG: That's right. I wasn't one of the sisters who were actually present on the scene where the riots were happening in Detroit, at that time. However, I was working with Sister Margaret Brennan, who was the president of the IHM congregation at that point. And since Margaret died just a few months ago, I felt that I was getting a little nudge from her to go and say something about what she was doing, and what we were concerned about at the time that the riots were happening in the Detroit area.
So, our televisions were on, and we were on the phones contacting, or trying to contact a number of our sisters who had— who were living in the convents in the area, and teaching in the schools in the area, concerned for their safety. So we saw on the television pictures of the rioting and the terrible wreckage and destruction that was occurring, and we could hardly believe that was happening in our wonderful city of Detroit.
But basically, we wanted to let the sisters know that we were praying for them, and that we were concerned for their safety, and that we were hopeful that the confusion that was going on would be short-lived and that everything could be restored to safety again. So I just wanted— I thought maybe it would be important for you to understand that it was the whole community that was involved, as well as our sisters who were directly on the scene where the riots were happening, and we're so sorry that all of that occurred, but that's part of the history.
WW: Were you surprised by the outbreak in '67?
MG: I think I was surprised, but as I look back on it, I could see that things were coming to a head in some way, and would probably have to break loose some time or other.
WW: Did it change the way you looked at Detroit?
MG: I think it made us feel closer to Detroit, in a way, more caring, because these were our people. We had loads of students in the area, who were concerned about their parents, and we were connected with them. They were our brothers and sisters in the area, so what was happening to them was happening to us too. We were hurting as they were hurting, and we hoped for better times for them.
WW: Thank you so much.