Hope: The Very Heart of Loretto’s Mission
The Book of the Prophet Isaiah 61:1 tells us, “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; God has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to prisoners, to announce a year of favor from the Lord and a day of vindication from our God.”
“In giving ourselves freely, we testify to the fulness of life to be found in God and in one another. Our call is an invitation to stake everything we are on the reality of God’s promise in Jesus.”“I Am the Way,” Loretto’s Constitutions, #57-58
There is nothing more important to people than hope. People can live without wealth, they can live without family, they can even live without good health, but they cannot live without hope. Hope is the very heart of a person. We are not speaking of optimism that life will go all right. Hope is the energy ahead, beyond the obstacle, built within the person working to claim the gift of God. This Advent season offers us again and again a way to live that gift. And what is the gift? The greatest of all gifts: the Christ, the Son, the Light, the Hope of the world, the love of our life, the salvation of our souls. We are invited to stake everything we are on the reality of God’s promise in Jesus.
We would like to share a story of hope: In the early 1920s, Loretto Mother Praxedes Carty arrived in El Paso, Texas, to oversee construction of a new all-girls school, where, in addition to traditional subjects, the Sisters would provide the girls with leadership and life-skills training. She bought nearly 20 acres of desert land against the advice of A.J. Schuler SJ, the local bishop, who told her, “If you succeed in building here, I’ll say you are the special child of our Divine Lord.” Certain that parents would never send their children to a school so far outside the city, naysayers called the project “Praxedes’ Folly.”
Loretto Academy President Mary E. “Buffy” Boesen SL takes the story from there: “Loretto Academy as we know it today owes much to Mother Praxedes Carty. In 1923 she returned to the Southwest after serving as the Superior General for 26 years. Building Loretto Academy seems to have been her retirement project. Oral history has it that she told architect Henry Trost to change the direction of the building so the two arms would reach out toward our neighbors in Mexico. According to the same oral tradition, Mother Praxedes was advised to construct one section of the building at a time. She responded that if she did that there would never be enough money to complete the building. So, she built the shell, and the Sisters spent the next 13 years raising money to complete the interior. For years, some window openings had no glass, and the Sisters would shovel the sand out of the rooms in the morning.”
Placing the future of Loretto Academy in God’s hands and trusting in God’s will, Mother Praxedes and the other Sisters of Loretto and staff who served with them at Loretto Academy were people of hope. So, too, are all those who staff the beautiful school today. May we all be blessed to be people of hope this Advent season, and always.