Loretto Co-members: Truly Our Blessing!
“Love one another. Have only one heart, one soul and one mind.”Traditional prayer of Loretto’s priest founder Father Charles Nerinckx
Many Loretto members remember the Loretto Gathering held in the early 1980s at the Rocky Mountain YMCA Camp near Estes Park, Colo. All members, past and present and their families were invited. More than 400 came, and many heard an 8 year old introduce his father to one of the Sisters, “This is my dad, he’s a Sister of Loretto, too.” Co-member Dad was a bit embarrassed, but everyone applauded that little 8 year old. His dad was a Co-member, belonging until he died.
The Sisters of Loretto have always tried to be clear, vital and honest. Through the years we have explored ways to grow and continue our legacy as a Community in support of mission. During the decade of the ‘70s we listened to our inner and outer voices that clearly said, “What new steps will give us more meaning and purpose? What voices are we hearing?” The voices we were hearing were from beloved former members. “How can we still belong?”
Conversations among vowed Sisters who left Loretto but wanted to establish bonds between themselves and the Congregation led to deep discussions around the Community. Eventually the 1970 General Assembly passed the proposal that welcomed Co-membership. This new form of membership gave Loretto a new way of mutual support, it deepened bonds of friendship and opened new doors to collaborate in mission. Co-membership was a new way of belonging. But it did not begin easily. Co-membership was a bold idea for Loretto. Questions abounded when the Sisters came together at the Assembly. What did Co-membership mean? Who could join? Only women? Only Catholics? What is our future if we welcome laypeople to Loretto? Father Nerinckx’s prayer was often heard: “Have only one heart.” What does that mean in our time?
When the Sisters of Loretto began Co-membership more than half a century ago, the intention was a visionary moment for Loretto. Beginning Co-membership was an intentional welcoming of diversity and friendship. It was a communal effort to create exploration into what community and mission meant now and in the future.
Loretto President Maureen McCormack once said in working with Co-member applicants, “Co-membership grew and was shaped by those who chose to join.” How true were our prayers? Very true. All of us. Together. Called to have “only have one heart.”
“Love one another. Have only one heart, one soul and one mind.”
Loretto’s Co-membership program enters its 51st year this August. This week on Loretto’s Facebook we will highlight some of our many Loretto Co-members and their thoughts about Co-membership. Loretto Co-members: Truly our blessing!