Loretto/BVM at the United Nations: The Midwest Tour 2022
Even though much of the action related to the United Nations occurs at U.N. Headquarters in New York City, Beth Blissman, Loretto’s United Nations Representative, appreciated the opportunity for a speaking tour through the midwest at the end of October.
Beth reflects, “The day started very early on Thursday, Oct. 27, with a 6 am flight from LaGuardia to St. Louis – I’m grateful to Roberta Hudlow SL, who picked me up and housed me for the weekend. After a hearty breakfast, Roberta dropped me off at Nerinx Hall High School, where I confirmed that Loretto school values of faith, community, justice and respect are alive and well.”
“I attended several meetings, caught up with many people, spoke about Loretto at the UN and/or being a Loretto co-member in five theology classes and even got to paint a festive tiny pumpkin during activity time on casual Friday.”
Beth was excited to learn more about Loretto’s connections with the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM) of Dubuque, Iowa. A dinner with Donna Day SL and her housemate Mary (who is a BVM Sister) on Sunday evening provided insight into the many historic and current connections between the Loretto Community and the BVMs.
Beth then spent Halloween enjoying time with Irene Lukefahr BVM, as they drove north from St. Louis to Dubuque. When Beth arrived in Dubuque, she spoke in two different sociology courses at the University of Dubuque, and attended a meeting of the Tri-State Coalition Against Human Trafficking. Several members of the coalition had just been to a conference in St. Louis and shared about progress on many fronts in the struggle to end human trafficking.
On All Souls Day she enjoyed time with the social work faculty at Clarke University, as well as students involved in Campus Ministry and Wellness. She reflected, “It felt like I was back at the United Nations when I spoke in a cultural anthropology course taught by Brother Brian McLauchlin at Divine Word College that featured students from over 10 different countries.” She then finished the evening with a soup supper and presentation/discussion with seminarians at Wartburg Seminary, which is associated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.
Other highlights of the trip included a presentation at the BVM Motherhouse, tours of the original BVM Motherhouse farm and current BVM cemetery and meeting with BVM President LaDonna Manternach as well as some BVM staff members.
Beth recalls, “The final day was the most exciting, in terms of Loretto connections, when I spoke to a crowded auditorium at Wahlert Catholic High School. The enthusiastic new principal, Mariah Reeves, assisted with technology as I spoke to over 50 students, faculty and staff members. After the talk I was walking by the brain health retreat room when the coordinator, Molly Menster, caught my attention by noting that she met her wife, Tina, at the Loretto Motherhouse — and they were both friends with Anna Koop SL — what a small world!
“Loretto is indeed everywhere, and I’m deeply grateful that Loretto at the UN has been partnered with the BVM Community for over a decade. We look forward to many more years of fruitful collaboration.”