Loretto Celebrates Neil Tucker’s Co-Membership in Kansas City
“My desire is that this event will allow me to honor Loretto and tell the story of how I encountered and connected with the Loretto Community.” That’s the way Neil Tucker began his co-membership celebration in Kansas City, Mo., on April 22, 2022.
COVID-19 and Neil’s natural shyness of the spotlight had delayed his celebration for more than two years after his formal acceptance in March 2020. Finally, the evening of April 22, Community Group 16 and many Kansas City friends were able to gather face-to-face in the home of David and Debbie Star, friends of Cathy Smith’s, where a large living room, gracious kitchen and strong internet connection allowed us to Zoom the celebration to the whole Loretto Community. Neil’s sister and two brothers also joined us online.
Neil’s wife, Vickie, a music therapist in the Kansas City, Kan., schools, played background music on the piano while we got settled, then signaled the beginning of the ritual with the song Neil had chosen, “Just As I Am, Lord.”
A blessing recorded by Marcella Shields and a reading of the Magnificat, “You, Lord, have done great things in me …” set the stage for the story of Neil’s journey to Loretto co-membership.
Looking into the Zoom camera, Neil introduced himself as a native of Spokane, Wash., and a professional television journalist in Spokane and Kansas City, Mo. He invited Barbara Doak, Carole Eschen and Eleanor Craig to fill in with stories of how he came to meet Mary McNellis and Barbara in his neighborhood, to send his daughter to Kansas City Academy where Carole and Martha Fly taught and to make movies with Eleanor, starting with pioneer trail trips and continuing with several on Loretto, including three about Loretto’s retirement centers and one about Loretto co-membership. Neil quoted several individuals in the co-membership movie as he expressed his own sense of commitment. He credited a number of Loretto individuals for what he has learned in the process of becoming a co-member and how it has changed his life.
“My point is that those patterns I encounter by way of my involvement with Loretto — the retreats, the books, the conversations with individuals — come with me and enrich the circles I am a part of in my local community, at my church, in my family and within my circle of one.”
“My commitment is that I will accompany and be in the company of Loretto as we both venture into the unknown.
“I may not fix anything but to paraphrase a fellow co-member, Kathy Baldwin, I take this commitment seriously. As another co-member, Sally Dunne, said, ‘Whatever I do in the future I’ll do it as a member of Loretto.’”
Coming to the end of the ritual, Neil thanked everyone and especially the Loretto Community. In true Loretto Zoom style he concluded, “Those of you on Zoom can unmute yourself after the song and chat if you like!” Then his wife, Vickie, played the entire score of Doris Pittman’s “We Give You Glory, Thanks and Praise” while all of us blew our little breaths and broke into applause.