Sr. Jane Schilling


Born in Wisconsin in 1930 as Nancy Mary Schilling, Sister Jane Edward Schilling was the oldest of five children. She had a close family that believed in serving others. In high school, she received the calling to become a sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. She started her career in St. Louis, where she worked in a black community that was completely segregated. That eye opening experience led her to spend decades working for racial justice.

In 1965, she was transferred to Indianapolis to serve as principal of Holy Angels School. During a time of unrest, brutality and hostility, Schilling worked tirelessly as a champion for the underserved of Central Indiana. She was outspoken about issues that mattered to her; leading marches against police brutality, protesting against the building of Interstate 65 through a neighborhood near Holy Angels and fighting against economic and social discrimination.

In the early 1970s, Schilling co-founded the Martin Center with Benedictine Father Boniface Hardin, of whom she first met at Holy Angels. The Martin Center later expanded into doing research and advocacy for sickle cell disease and adult education. It was the latter effort that eventually led to the founding of Martin University in 1977. Schilling served the university for 30 years and was known as the university’s heart and soul.

Although most known in Indianapolis as the co-founder of Martin University, Schilling was active with Indianapolis Public Schools, Crispus Attucks Museum committee and the Martin Center. She was also a lover of music and placed great value on the arts. It has been said that while the university may be her most visible legacy of her decades of ministry in Indianapolis, it ultimately stands as a testament to her faith and passion for racial justice.

Schilling, who passed away at the age of 86 in 2017, was a people person, full of love and passion. She was a social change agent and committed herself to serving the community. She had the gift to open people’s eyes to injustice and open their hearts to change. Schilling embarked on a mission early in life to ensure all who could benefit received opportunities to achieve and overcome. She was dedicated to helping the poor and had a strong sense and desire for justice, which was evident to all who knew her.