“You really can’t get to know, admire, love and experience the ocean, if you don’t step into it and explore all it has to offer.”
Sister Elizabeth “Liza” Segleau, SDS is nothing if not adaptable. Born in the Bronx, New York and raised on a coffee farm in Costa Rica, she is no stranger to adapting to new places and situations. It’s a trait she developed at a young age when she dropped out of school to become her mother’s primary caregiver. Thankfully, at the encouragement of her high school principal, a Sister of St. Joseph, Sr. Liza did study to receive her high school diploma.
Once she decided to answer the call of religious life, Sr. Liza says she knew one thing for sure. “I knew I wanted to serve others for the rest of my life, I wanted to embrace the needs of people all around the world. So, I knew my religious family had to be international. I was not clear how I wanted to serve, but that came later.”
Finding a religious congregation she melded with was not an easy process. In fact, when Sr. Liza first met the Salvatorian Sisters she was close to giving up on religious life in the United States and heading home to Costa Rica. But fortunately, a friend of hers invited her to a fish fry where she met a group of Salvatorian Sisters for the first time. The day ended with ice cream and new friendships. A year later, in 1995, Sr. Liza entered the congregation and took her first vows in 1998. A day she claims to be one of her most memorable as a Sister of the Divine Savior.
“It was an incredible day, a warm Milwaukee June day. Spiritually, I took my first vows as my final vows,” she reminisces.
In her 25 years of religious life, Sr. Liza has advocated for a wide range of at-risk individuals through her ministry as a social worker. Past clients of hers include individuals of the Hopi, Navajo, and Apache indigenous groups in Arizona and Wisconsinites reliant on Medicaid. For several years, Sr. Liza worked for Catholic Charities in Milwaukee – first for the immigration program and then, after getting her master’s in clinical social work in 2005, for the behavioral health department.
Her father’s health concerns and later passing took her from Milwaukee to Austin, Texas in 2007. From Texas, she moved to Phoenix, Arizona where she planned to join a community of Salvatorian Sisters. But as God would have it, instead of finding work in the “big city” she ended up in the wild, wild west in a town called Show Low. Due to a lack of funding, Sr. Liza worked as a counselor at multiple clinics throughout the Greater Phoenix Area. Eventually, she returned to Milwaukee after overcoming a series of health issues leading to losing her hearing in her right ear. She would later spend 2015-2017 in Guatemala and then permanently returned to Milwaukee to assume a position with iCare, a medical insurance company. As a member of the crisis team, she helped Wisconsin’s poorest of the poor meet their medical, behavioral, or housing needs.
Presently, Sr. Liza is focused on attending to her health needs and advocating for people who require the assistance of a manual or power wheelchair. Her advocacy work is primarily done via her YouTube channel, Power Wheelchairs 4 Success, where she shares her personal experience of navigating the world in a power wheelchair. While she misses her social work ministry every day, she reminds people considering religious vocation, “You really can’t get to know, admire, love and experience the ocean, if you don’t step into it and explore all it has to offer.”