Bound for the Promised Land: Loretto Roots and Enslavement
For the first five decades of its existence in the antebellum South, the Sisters of Loretto at the Foot of the Cross, as an early American religious congregation, participated in the system of enslavement of human beings of African descent.
Few records exist of these early years, because of fires and forgotten stories, but in the 1970s, Mary Luke Tobin SL encouraged Joan Campbell SL to examine the role of race and enslavement in Loretto history. She found more than 60 individuals who had been enslaved by Loretto in Kentucky, Missouri and Arkansas. In 2000, the Loretto Community dedicated a memorial at the Loretto Motherhouse in Nerinx, Ky., which names those individuals.
Since January 2022, Annie Stevens SL, who has a doctorate in English, has served as lead researcher on the Loretto Roots Enslavement project, conducting further research into the individuals and families listed on the Slave Memorial, while finding a few others whose names had not been known earlier. This project report, which you can read below, is based on her research.