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50 years later: ‘The seeds have grown into strong, tall trees …’

Posted on June 30, 2022, by Loretto Community

We are daughters of Colegio Loretto; the seeds you planted in us are multiplying in our sons and daughters and our grandsons and granddaughters.

From a presentation prepared by the class of 1972 for a visit to the Loretto Motherhouse in 2012
Women at their 40th class reunion pose for a photo with their former teachers.
Colegio Loretto grads visit with their onetime teachers at the Loretto Motherhouse in Nerinx, Ky., in May 2014.
Top row, from left: Isabel Martinez, Eva Marie Salas SL, Martha Cáceres,Susy Palazzi, Bebe Mendieta, Naya Ponce, Elena Sandoval, Marlene Borda; bottom row, from left: Mary Peter Bruce SL, Delia Palazzi, Angie Murphy SL.
Photo courtesy of Isabel Martinez

Sister Eva Marie Salas and I have kept in touch on and off over the years. In one of our correspondences, she said that she had helped plant 15,000 small trees around the Loretto Motherhouse. I responded:
Evita, you said that planting 15,000 trees was very special to you. But long before you planted those trees, you, and the Sisters of Loretto, sowed many seeds in La Paz, Bolivia, and now those seeds have grown into strong, tall trees, with branches that extend high and wide around the world. We, your students, have been successful in life because of what we learned under your quiet and steady guidance. There is much for you to be happy about.

Ximena Ferguson

We did not know that the memories of our childhood would accompany us daily for the rest of our lives, but we are now daily grateful for having belonged to Colegio Loretto.

Sandra Cecilia Ortiz Sanchez
Archival photo of ten nuns in habits posing for a photo.
Mary Luke Tobin SL, Loretto’s mother superior, in black, visited Colegio Loretto in 1966. Back row, from left, Angie Murphy SL, Mary Peter Bruce SL, Imelda Quesada SL, Matthew Geraghty SL, Arlene Bundschuh SL and Ellen Maloney SL; front row, Eva Marie Salas SL, Marie Louise Ramirez SL, Mary Luke Tobin SL and Peter Michael (Carol) Dunphy SL
Photo from a presentation by Mary Peter Bruce SL
Insignia patch for Loretto College: Badge with crown above. The badge reads "OSJ OSM" with a cross between the acronyms. Below is written "Loretto College"

It was the sisters who really made Loretto such a special place to grow up. They always encouraged us to be free-minded and to speak up for what’s right. We remember that they led by example, joining in demonstrations for political change in our country.
They were developing our future leaders! … Looking back at our many friends and classmates, we now see many exemplary women who have become leaders in politics, the arts, human rights and many other fields.

Patricia Agramont Bascon

If there is a stage in my life that I keep in my heart and memory with great love, emotion, nostalgia and in a special way as something almost magical, it is my first years at Colegio Loretto.

Cecilia Losantos Quiroga
Black and white photo of an elementary school class photo
A Colegio Loretto first grade class in 1963.
Photo Courtesy of Patricia Zenia Cuellar Otero

Blooming through generations

Black and white class photo. Three rows of young women in school uniforms pose together.
In November 1972, the first class to graduate from Colegio Loretto in La Paz, Bolivia, prepares for the happy day with a photo shoot.
Photo courtesy of Ximena Ferguson and Frida Pett

All of us who passed our childhood and part of our youth in the school’s classrooms can be considered fortunate to have received an education with solid values to face life with a sense of responsibility, respect and solidarity. Loretto taught us to live in a dynamic world, be openminded and committed in our community. The spirit of Loretto has been always present in my daily life, within my family, work and friends. I learned that faith and religion are a matter of love and forgiveness, to give instead of receive, to seek for peace and justice. We have been taught to be independent women with full rights, active in our society and not afraid of challenges. I tried to educate my sons under these comprehensive and liberating concepts. I hope I have succeeded. I studied economics which led me to work with different institutions and organizations.
All my life I have participated as a volunteer and I still do in small projects in my town. We should keep and spread the philosophy of Loretto for a brighter and more peaceful world.
Always thankful and forever!’

Corina Murillo de Larrea

Our sisters gave us great power and strength to go through the obstacles of life, facing adversity with courage, justice and love ….

Lillian Lopez
A group of 16 women gather for a photo.
Graduates of Colegio Loretto visiting with Mary Peter Bruce SL in 2010; Mary Peter is in the middle row, second from left.
Photo from a presentation by Mary Peter Bruce SL

In addition to my family, Loretto was the cradle of my training. There, I learned the values I retain to this day, especially those referring to my ideological orientation, my vision of the world and the meaning I give to each of the causes to which I have dedicated myself for more than 45 years. I consider myself a person forged in the classrooms of Loretto where I learned about the principles, commitments and values that I follow now. These are my beacon and my light.
My life choices, starting with my professional career as a social psychologist, all the places where I worked for more than 35 years and my activism in what I call ‘just causes’ (particularly feminism), up to the present — they are all rooted in that period of my formation.
At Loretto I learned that I am not an isolate person, that I live in a society, that society is a group of people, with some more — and others less — favored by circumstances, their origin, the social class to which they belong, the opportunities that life offers them; I learned that circumstances are not equal for all.
I also learned that honesty is a principle of life that cannot be broken without consequence. That life becomes meaningful to the extent that one finds a purpose and, under the educational philosophy of the school, there can be no other than social justice and peace among peoples.’

Jenny Ybarnegaray Ortiz

Many of us have been involved … as political activists, in social work, or educating children with the principles that will pass on the legacy of social justice to the next generations.

Jessie Vargas Maderholz

A legacy of compassion

Archival photo of habited nuns posed in a line with staff women.
The Colegio Loretto sisters and staff in 1963; from left, Eva Marie Salas SL, Esperanza, Mary Peter Bruce SL, Celia, Marius (Elena) Sandoval SL, Sofia, Angela Murphy SL and Rosa
Photo from a presentation by Mary Peter Bruce SL

My sister Rosemary Quiroga Arce, “Rosmy,” was the product of an education where women are protagonists of the changes in society. This small-in-stature, prominent anthropologist wearing her white coat spoke for the Indigenous people of our country. She has left her mark, fighting also to improve the education and the living conditions of the marginalized.
Rosmy is always present in our lives with her carvings in wood, her beautiful art pieces.
I think that it was Loretto which made the path for her, with ideals that allowed her to love life.

Maria Eugenia Quiroga Arce

… my dedication to others for 32 years as a psychologist can be read as related to the principles of the educational philosophy of the school.

Paula Benedict de Bellot
Photo of two women smiling together. The older woman on the left wears a yellow shirt with the "Loretto College" patch logo
Angie Murphy SL, left, who lived and taught in La Paz for 10 years, with Ximena Ferguson, graduate of Colegio Loretto
Photo courtesy of Ximena Ferguson

… I can say that [Colegio Loretto] has made a person who — in any place or situation — I am part of the solution and not the problem.

Zoe Albarracin

With Sister Pat McCormick, a few of my classmates and I participated in social activism, took part in demonstrations against the government’s abuse of power and supported a hunger strike by women workers.
We went to Indigenous communities to teach young mothers how to care for their children, and we volunteered in poor neighborhoods at the periphery of the city and in public schools.
We were determined to make a difference.

Ximena Ferguson
A nun in a habit helps one student while others in the classroom look on.
Eva Marie Salas SL teaching students at Colegio Loretto, La Paz, Bolivia. Eva Marie was principal of the school for 12 years.
Photo from a presentation by Mary Peter Bruce SL

For assistance with this feature, thanks are due to Lupe Arciniega SL, Pat McCormick SL and Eva Marie Salas SL. Thank you to former Colegio Loretto students for sharing your memories and photos. Thank you to all of the Loretto sisters who served so selflessly and compassionately in South America.
Invaluable to compiling the article were Loretto publications: “A Century of Change 1912 – 2012: Loretto’s Second Century” and “Naming Our Truth: Stories of Loretto Women.”


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Loretto welcomes you

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