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A letter from Loretto President Barbara Nicholas SL

Posted on September 22, 2023, by Barbara Nicholas SL

Head shot of Sr. Barbara Nicholas taken outside on a sunny day.

Dear Reader,

One of the most memorable commentaries that Sister Mary Luke Tobin ever articulated came in reference to the Sisters of Loretto who made the decision to leave the congregation in the years following the Second Vatican Council. Mary Luke noted that these women had received high-quality educations at Webster College (now University), Loretto Heights College, or any number of other colleges and universities throughout their years in Loretto, and noted that this gift would never leave them but had the potential to inform and inspire so many other people whose lives they would touch.

Such a belief in and commitment to education is a hallmark of Loretto. Many years later when asked by Mary Luke to draft a revised text of what had been called the Rule, Jane Marie Richardson SL (1928 – 2014) responded with the new constitutions of the Sisters of Loretto, I Am the Way. This inspirational and aspirational document could be considered the vision statement for all sisters and co-members of Loretto, and includes these words found in Article 37, “Our long and vital tradition of teaching takes many forms; we desire to educate others as well as ourselves to truth, beauty and the ways of peace, in the spirit of Jesus.”

Reading the accounts of Loretto educators presented in this issue, I am moved by their compassionate and at times heroic stories. Consider your own stories of education and teaching. Which classroom springs to mind? Do you readily remember a favorite teacher?

Personally, Sister Damian Mary Simmons SL who taught us science at Loretto High School in Louisville, Ky., had the most profound influence on my life. As I look back, an encounter that a friend, Rosie, and I had with her provided the most comical, too. You might ask me about that one day.

My first teacher outside our home was Mrs. Temple Lewis, my kindergarten teacher at Shawnee Elementary School in Louisville. One day Mrs. Lewis told us that her airplane pilot son reported that the flight was so bumpy that everyone was given Chiclets to chew so that their ears would not pop. I thought she said “chickens” and brought this story home. In my hearing every passenger was given a nice, plump hen to chew, and truly no one’s ears popped!

Let’s join together with thoughts of appreciation and prayers of gratitude for all educators past and present, and all students today, as we savor this issue of Loretto Magazine.

Barbara Nicholas SL
President of Loretto

… gestures of generosity, solidarity and care cannot but well up within us, since we were made for love.

Pope Francis, From “A Prayer for Our Earth,” Laudato Si’
Fall wildflowers at the Loretto Motherhouse in Nerinx, Ky.
Photo by Christina Manweller

To read all the articles in the Fall 2023 issue of Loretto Magazine, click here.


Barbara Nicholas SL

Barbara has been a Sister of Loretto since 1961. For 37 years, her professional career was as a registered nurse in Oncology at Baptist Health Louisville where she served as "bedside nurse," cancer program coordinator and community educator in cancer prevention and early detection. Currently, she is President of the Sisters of Loretto and Loretto Community. Barbara resides in Louisville.