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Our History

The Sisters of Loretto and Co-members comprise the Loretto Community. The Loretto Community exists to praise God and minister to people. We are people of faith and service bound together by our love of God and love of one another. We live in the desert Southwest, the hills of Kentucky, cities dotting the East and West coasts and many places in between … some live in Europe, South America, Africa and Pakistan. Our spirit and mission are grounded in the Gospel.

Loretto’s foundresses – Mary Rhodes, Ann Havern and Christina Stuart – began by teaching the children on the Kentucky frontier. When they decided to form a religious community, they turned to Father Charles Nerinckx, the Flemish missionary priest who served the area, for his advice and help in writing their rule and receiving approval for their new community. Founded in 1812 as Friends of Mary at the Foot of the Cross, the first sisters dedicated their lives to God as religious women and educated poor children of the area. They derived strength from communal living and prayer. They later took the name Sisters of Loretto at the Foot of the Cross. Today the name Loretto Community incorporates the two types of membership in Loretto: sisters who make public profession of vows and co-members who affiliate with the spirit and mission of the community.

Through the teachings and insights of Vatican II, we gained a new understanding of our vocation. Just as frontier living shaped the lives of our early sisters, so a global society shapes ours.

Like our early sisters who called themselves Friends of Mary, we, too, stand at the Foot of the Cross as we strive to bring the healing spirit of God into our world and commit ourselves to improving the conditions of those who suffer from injustice, oppression and deprivation of dignity.