Home » Features » A Letter from Loretto President Barbara Nicholas SL

A Letter from Loretto President Barbara Nicholas SL

Posted on February 17, 2023, by Barbara Nicholas SL

Dear Reader,

In a previous issue, I wrote briefly about my few days spent as a resident in the Loretto Motherhouse Infirmary where I recovered from the surgical procedure called a cardiac ablation. I’d like to
share a little more with you about those days. When we nurses become surgical patients, there are occasions of role reversal that can be humbling and at the same time allow us to revive the teaching role that is integral to our profession. I was able to talk about how the heart performs, beating day and night as it should until some glitch requires attention. As my cardiologist explained, he would cauterize two offending places in a ventricle that had begun to compete with the natural pacemaker for the right to set the rate and rhythm. That’s the ablation, and now I am fully discharged from cardiology.

After learning of the need for a period of recovery following the ablation, Infirmary Administrator Michelle Essex located a room for me on the second floor, a room directly across from the elevator. My nearest neighbors were Mary and Margaret Quayhagen in the double room to the south. Sylvia Sedillo was my neighbor to the north.

From this ideal location, I gained a contemporary perspective of the life of a resident in our nursing facility. As I expected, the morning began a lot earlier in the Infirmary than at my home, but it also provided room service. It was not at all disagreeable to awaken, in the morning’s darkness, to a gentle knock at the door by a night nurse, Wanda or Marla, as she delivered a morning pill and asked, “Would you like a cup of coffee?”

Inside this venerable facility that dates from 1949, with its new wing added in 1980, each resident’s safety, health care, nutrition, spiritual life and emotional well-being are among the priorities of each employee who represents administration, nursing, housekeeping, maintenance, food service, social service, pastoral care, activities, laundry, physical therapy and so on. Our dedicated staff convey much more than one might expect to receive from workers who primarily come to “do a job.”

“Winter,” serigraph, by Gabriel Mary Hoare SL, 1982

Many of us recall the story of Sister Michaela’s reply to a state surveyor who asked, “Do you have any complaints?” “The place is too (insert your favorite adverb) clean!” Her assessment of cleanliness and order is as true today as when first uttered.

It was a blessing for me to visit with all who stopped by my room or who welcomed me as I did my walking routines. As the weekend approached and the COVID- 19 incidence in the county remained low, Infirmary residents were again welcomed into the main dining room at dinner time. This gathering of the Motherhouse Community was a gift appreciated by all who chose to share a meal together. We pray that it will soon be an ordinary happening with an opportunity again to welcome
family members, retreatants and visitors.

In the meantime, let’s continue to hold each other in prayer, in gratitude for all that we receive every day, and in confidence for all that we need. We hope you have been enjoying a most beautiful winter season.

With love,

Barbara Nicholas SL
President of Loretto

To read all the articles in the Winter 2022-2023 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.
Cupola Cross 2-Icon

Loretto welcomes you

Learn more or plan a visit to the Motherhouse!


  1. Avatar Ana Maria Vargas Sandoval Col on March 18, 2023 at 1:16 am

    Felicidades admiración!! a nuestra querida presidenta de la Comunidad de las Hermanas de Loretto
    Por la Alegría de su recuperación y su entrega con las/los demás. Sera y es enfermera , educadora comunitaria, llena el corazón. Gran ejemplo de vida. Reencontrarnos y actuar por quienes nos necesitan.

    Desde la Paz- Bolivia abrazos sororos porque eres la Alegría del evangelio

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Cupola Cross 2-Icon

Loretto welcomes you

Learn more or plan a visit to the Motherhouse!