Alta was born on Good Friday, April 6, 1928 in Chicago, Illinois. She lived on the Southside of Chicago with her mother and a younger brother. She attributed her values to her mother’s influence, writing: “Mother was adamant about education and telling the truth. She stressed the importance of education, not only as a means for employment, but also for self-esteem and self-growth. Telling the truth, for Mother, develops courage and strength of character.” Her mother managed to pay for piano lessons for Alta as she was growing up, and music became a lifelong love. Alta wrote: “In retrospect, my mother’s values of love, truth, and the discipline of music started me on my journey in preparation for the priesthood.”
Alta’s education attests to that. She earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education from the Chicago Conservatory College. She married and raised eight children, then went on to earn graduate degrees in pastoral studies and in jurisprudence from Loyola University. Her entire career was spent in music education, and she continued to work part-time as a music teacher in a special education high school in her retirement years. She became a Catholic late in life, and was accepted as an associate with the Adrian Dominicans after her retirement from full time employment. After ordination, Alta’s ministry changed little from what it always had been: consciously walking with people, prompted by the Holy Spirit in all she said and did. She died a happy death, uncomplaining and filled with gratitude, and was buried from the same accommodating Lutheran church in which she had been ordained.