By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published January 21, 2010
Eva Romick learned the lessons of racial justice from the “good sisters” who taught her at her Ohio parochial school.
Those lessons rippled through her life, from rooming with two black college students and service as a Peace Corps volunteer to promoting ecumenical efforts in her adopted community of Douglasville.
Her grade school teachers, who were Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine, spoke of diversity before the term was popular, she said.
“They were always exposing us to a lot of neat stuff like that,” she said.
Romick received the 2010 Father Bruce Wilkinson Founders Award at the annual archdiocesan Mass honoring Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Saturday, Jan. 16. The award salutes a person and her efforts of evangelization.
This year’s award could serve as a sign of how the country has changed since King urged unity among different people. Romick, who is white, received an award named for an African-American priest in Atlanta. And she was nominated by her pastor, a Hispanic priest.
“I say that God has a sense of humor,” she said when she learned about the award. She said it is an honor to be considered for the recognition since there are so many worthy people.
Romick said improving race relations has long been a passion. The grade school lessons stuck and she was active in high school and college promoting racial harmony as a young person. In the late 1960s, at Kent State University, she shared an apartment with two black college students.
“It was very important for us to share what we didn’t know about our cultures,” she said.
She participated in trips to Tanzania in 1967 and other countries in East Africa as part of an exchange. She served in Asia as a member of the Peace Corps.
A native of Akron, Ohio, she and her husband, Duane, and their four children moved to Georgia close to 30 years ago when her husband’s job was transferred here.
Romick said her inspiration comes from prayer.
“I say this with a lot of feeling. It is being totally connected with Christ through the Eucharist,” she said. “If we don’t have that, none of us are anything. We have to be very, very attuned to him.”
Father Fernando Molina-Restrepo, pastor of St. Theresa Church, Douglasville, nominated Romick for the recognition.
“She is somebody who cares. She sees somebody in need, she is there,” said Father Molina-Restrepo. “She is a great friend of the whole parish community.”
Her great passion is “social justice and prayer,” he said.
Romick served as the director of religious education at the parish for a dozen years. But retirement hasn’t meant she stopped showing up. Romick participated in two years of church leadership training in 2002 as part of the pastoral ministry formation program. Among her many interests, Romick has revived a Bible study group, visits parishioners too ill to leave home and is an advocate for the parish outreach ministries.
She builds bridges between the parish and the Good Samaritan ministry, a local ecumenical group, Father Molina-Restrepo said.
“She is almost in everything that needs to be done. She’s a gentle soul,” he said.
Romick has led a tutoring program, mentored single mothers, and helped to start a new homeless shelter and prison ministry.
She laughs now, but Romick remembered how she would pray to be of service wherever God needed her, but not in prison ministry. She said she had a fear of visiting a prison and not being released.
But Romick met a woman who wanted someone to accompany her to visit her imprisoned husband.
“The first time I did it, I literally prayed like crazy. I got a total sense of peace. I was supposed to be there,” she remembered feeling.
The relationship grew. At the man’s release, Romick picked him up from prison and drove him home.
“We bawled all the way there,” she said. “It worked out fine. He is doing very well,” Romick said.
“As we do more and more ministry, it is not us doing it, but God doing it through us.” “How (does God) love through me?” is the question people should ask themselves, Romick said. “He is doing the work. We know he will touch people’s hearts.”