There are so many of our Residents here at Villa Guadalupe who we ask, “How did you get to Gallup?” Arletta Hartman, who is originally from Wisconsin, is one of those people. At her parish in Milwaukee there was a young associate pastor, Fr. Jerome Hastrich, who later became bishop of the Gallup diocese (and invited the Little Sisters to care for the elderly poor in Gallup).
She felt drawn to a mission vocation, but when she was just out of high school she didn’t know where to go. She first looked into the B.I.A. (the Bureau of Indian Affairs), who at first wanted to send her to Mississippi. Then it was decided to send her to Brigham City, Utah, where there were about 1,000 Navajos in the school where she taught. After teaching there she asked to be sent to the “Res” (the Reservation). She then went to Luka Chukai, AZ, where they were still using covered wagons, and since she did not drive at the time, she was able to get into town (Gallup) about twice during a semester.
“Our Sunday Visitor” published an article by a German bishop who was looking for lay missioners to go to Samoa; she taught there for two and a half years, she came home to the States via, Australia, New Zealand, and Vietnam. When she came back to the States, she taught in an inner city school. She wanted so much to go back to the “missions.”
She then joined the International Catholic Auxiliary. At that time she wanted very much to go to the Congo. After two years in Belgium to study, they sent her back to the States, working first in a Montessori School and doing special education with the children from the Reservation, working with the Navajo children for more than 30 years. She refers to her interesting life as a pilgrimage with the Holy Spirit.