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Jan Belle, OCDS Aspirant

Posted on October 1, 2018, by Vicki Schwartz SL

By Vicki Schwartz

Jan Belle

June 28 several Loretto Community members joined more than 100 other supporters in celebrating Jan Belle’s retirement as executive director of the Southwest Improvement Council (SWIC). She originally founded the organization in 1987 to clean up yards, alleys and graffiti; however, it quickly expanded to address youth education and employment, elder wellness promotion and several related programs that served the neediest populations in neighborhoods throughout southwest Denver. Before starting SWIC, Jan was an English teacher, a union business representative and organizer and a writer/editor.

Currently, SWIC’s programs are located throughout the city, including housing counseling, daily lunches for seniors, monthly “OUATE” Talking Circles for Native American and Hispanic elders, weekly food banks, exercise and fitness programs for adults, after-school and recreation programs for youth, weekly sewing, quilting, knitting and crocheting for elders, a community garden and an urban wildlife refuge.

During the celebration, words of gratitude, admiration and love came from several persons, including clients, staff, funders and family, and a member of the city council who read the city and county of Denver’s proclamation that recognizes Jan for her many accomplishments.

We know that Jan has transitioned out of the Loretto Community and is now transitioning into the Carmelite Community.

By Jan Belle

I write this to let everyone know why I have ended my commitment as a Loretto co-member. I am answering a calling to an apostolate of prayer, anchored by silent adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. I’ve entered into the formation process of the Order of Carmelites Discalced Secular (OCDS). This program requires me to attend daily Mass, say the rosary daily, pray the Divine Office, along with silent meditation, monthly gatherings, assigned readings/written responses, and living the Beatitudes and Evangelical Counsels (according to my station in life).

The selection committee interviewed me in August; I am awaiting the letter informing me whether I am selected to move from OCDS Aspirant to formation. If selected, I will make my first promise and be clothed in the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The OCDS formation program leading toward a Lifetime Promise is a six-year process, more or less as determined by the Provincial.

We wear the large brown scapular over our clothing at OCDS gatherings, not in the general public. Formation includes written assignments responding to the writings of St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, St. Theresa the Little Flower, other Carmelite writings and the continuing commitments to prayer and service.

I pray for Loretto daily, saying “O Suffering Jesus, O Sorrowful Mary” between the decades of my rosary.


Vicki Schwartz SL

Vicki Schwartz SL is a member of Loretto’s Executive Committee and Community Forum.
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