Alta Jacko is born on Good Friday, April 6, 1928 in Chicago, Il.
Now she’s a widow with eight children, four girls and four boys, sixteen grand children and four great-grand children. She is also an ordained priest in the Roman Catholic Church since 2009. She invites at home and offered me cookies and hot sweet tea. Alta is 85 years old, beautiful, strong and really tall. A former art and music teacher, earned her master's degree in pastoral studies from Loyola University, a Jesuit Catholic school. She says being a priest is what she was called to do by God.
When I asked her about disobedience to the Church, Alta said: “The Holy Spirit is calling women. it's not a one morning you wake up, no! your whole life is a preparation to the ordination and beyond. So with that strength, that courage that I have no choice as an African American woman, I have to go forward and follow the Holy Spirit.” During our 6 hours interview she had been so strong, so tough. “It was told to me that I was given the gift of seeing. It’s not just seeing, seeing, like we see with our eyes, with our glasses, or with like a… it’s a deeper seeing. A seeing within. I’m teaching to change and to recognize change. It’s not the law. It’s not the law. It’s not… it’s you! It’s all about you and your belief. The signs of the times are all around you”
I asked her more about obedience and disobedience to God. Alta recalled a moment in which she felt she disobeyed God. She told me that many years before she had what I would call an intuition, like a voice inside herself, but she didn’t listen to it and went on. Her expression was suddenly between sorrow and fear, and Alta said: ”I knew I had made a mistake, that I had disobeyed. The sun, as we were on the train, we could see the sun coming up and I said loud “I had disobeyed him”, and I heard “You have disobeyed.” I cried… I called Rosemarie, a nun who lived not too far from me, and I said: “I blew it. I disobeyed God” and I cried and I cried. I’m still crying, I couldn’t stop crying. And so she said: “Well I’m gonna make some sandwiches and let’s go to the beach and sit by the lake”, just crying: “I don’t think I can eat”, “You’ll eat”. So we sat. We must have spent the whole day, me crying and just crying. I was so hurt that I disobeyed. I disobeyed and I haven’t since. It’s a terrible feeling, it’s like a cut-off: you’re separated from God.”
Alta has real authenticity and honesty in her voice and facial expression. When she says something to me, I can only trust her, but on the other side there’s so much that I don’t understand. So I asked her my silly question: “Why should we be obedient to God?” Suddenly, opening up her eyes with surprise: “Because God loves us so much. He wants nothing but the best for us and he knows better than we do. He knows what the plan is, he knows what’s down the line. We know nothing. We don’t know what’s good for us. But God does. The best for us, only the very best. We wouldn’t know the best if it came up and slapped up in the face, but God does, and that’s what he wants to show us. What’s good and what is not.” Another silly question: “So why was God showing to Jesus the crucifixion?” Another patient answer: “Because God was showing us what betrayal, deception, anger, fear looks like and how to go through them. So when we experience those things, we could identify with Jesus. We should live the life of Christ. Giulia, if you have not experienced the crucifixion, you’re already dead.” With little voice, I complained: “If God loves us so much, why do we have to prove it constantly?” Alta laughed: “God already knows it. You prove it to yourself.”