Many years ago Bishop J. Terry Steib, who was then an auxiliary bishop in St. Louis, told Ruby Douthet how important it is to volunteer for the Church, not just a parish.
She’s taken that to heart, volunteering at several places in the archdiocese and beyond.
She’s now a parishioner at St. Matthew Parish in St. Louis, but she still can be found at her former parish, Our Lady of the Holy Cross. Douthet is director of Nia Kuumba Spirituality Center, which encourages African and African-American women to be who they are within the Church. She’s also a member of the Knights and Ladies of Peter Claver and a faithful navigator of the Ladies of Grace, chapter 29.
She’s helped with the St. Charles Lwanga Center and was recognized by it as a lifetime achievement award winner by that ministry.
Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si’ (On Care of our Common Home)” inspired her to help children and teens to take a spiritual view of the environment while understanding what can be done to help.
She’s also involved with the Office of Racial Harmony of the archdiocese. She’s helped with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul conference, retreats for seniors and a program discussing the spiritual side of movies, all at Our Lady of the Holy Cross.
Douthet is an associate of the Franciscan Sisters of Oldenburg, Indiana, and an associate of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. She’s a graduate of the Institute of Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University in New Orleans.
Douthet’s former pastor, Father Richard Creason, was a founder of Metropolitan Congregations United, and she’s taken part in some of their programs. She misses the monthly Scripture gatherings of Nia Kuumba at Uncle Bill’s Pancake House in St. Louis, which were postponed after a car drove into the building.
So, yes, she did Bishop Steib proud by being involved in various aspects of the Church.
Most of all, Douthet, said, “I think it’s our responsibility to encourage and empower our young people. I’m constantly doing that.”
Nia Kuumba provides her the opportunity to minister with women of all ages to be involved in programs and do what’s needed for the Church. Douthet enjoys being around people and encouraging them. When she decided to volunteer, she thought of what Bishop Steib told her. Also helping her was the guidance of Bishop Steib and earlier from the late Msgr. John Shocklee, former director of the archdiocese’s Human Rights Office. “With those two as examples,” she said, “you can’t sit around. And then to have as a mentor someone like Sister Barbara Moore, CSJ, Sister Carlene Welker, DC, Sister Barbara Jennings, CSJ, and others behind me and encouraging me.”
As an adult Douthet studied various churches before she made a decision to join the Catholic Church. She’s always believed, however, that “if you don’t go to church, you can’t do anything else.” She passed that on to the next generation, giving the example of one time her daughter said she was too tired to go to Mass and then wanted to do things in the afternoon, only to be told to go back to bed. Her daughter ended up going to a late afternoon Mass that Sunday.
Douthet worked for the Stix, Baer and Fuller department store chain before her daughter was born. She wasn’t going to transfer to Arkansas after the retail company was purchased by Dillard’s, so she stayed home for about four months before becoming a volunteer at her parish and later the school and then Lwanga Center and other programs.
Her late husband, Dewey, was in the military and then worked for the U.S. Postal Service. Being involved in a lot of things keeps her moving, she said.