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Honoring Sister Susan Carol McDonald

Posted on October 25, 2023, by Loretto Community

A compilation of photos and articles showing Susan Carol McDonald SL
A photo collage of Susan Carol McDonald by Susan Pieper.
Photo by Matthew Pieper

Last month, Sister Mary Nelle Gage attended a ceremony at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Akron, Colo., in honor of the late Sister Susan Carol McDonald. St. Joseph’s dedicated a plaque to be installed in a new memorial section of their cemetery, very close to the graves of Susan Carol’s parents and brother. Susan Carol (who was Carol Sue McDonald in Akron) graduated from the Loretto Heights College School of Nursing and then nursed at Loretto Motherhouse before going to Saigon, Vietnam, in May 1973. Mary Nelle worked with her at the New Haven Nursery in Saigon.

Susan Pieper (bottom photo on left) was a baby in New Haven nursery and adopted by a family in Akron, Colo., whom Susan Carol knew. The Piepers contacted Susan Carol in Saigon to inquire about adoption. The Pieper family then named their adopted daughter after Sister Susan Carol.

Mary Nelle reflects, “Sister Susan Carol’s father, Bill McDonald, was long-time sheriff in Washington County, Colorado (where Akron is located). The second adoptee in the photo is Matt Ryan who was also an orphan in Vietnam and adopted in St. Louis. He is now a sheriff in Morgan County, the adjacent county to Washington.”

Mary Nelle noted several coincidences:

  • The dedication of the plaque the day after the third anniversary of Susan Carol’s death and the day on which the 75th anniversary of the foundation of the Loretto Heights College School of Nursing was celebrated.
  • One of the two adoptees who attended is also a sheriff in eastern Colorado, just like Sister Susan Carol’s dad.

As Albert Einstein said, “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.”

To learn more about Sister Susan Carol you can read the Fall 2021 Loretto Magazine edition here.

Four people smiling for a group photo, two women on the left and two men on the right.
From left, Susan Pieper, Mary Nelle Gage, Matt Ryan and Father Joseph Juknialis.
Photo by Matthew Pieper

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