Loretto involvement in Louisville’s West End
On a rainy Saturday in October, a small group of Loretto members headed to Louisville for a meeting with members of the West End Louisville Women’s Collaborative. There was no atmosphere of gloom once we arrived. Lovely faces of Mariel Gardner, Cecilia Reyna and Liz Foley greeted us warmly, in spite of the cool and damp outside.
We then experienced the camaraderie and expertise of these talented women. We enjoyed a delicious lunch, participated in an art project and watched the outside weather change toward a friendly, even cozy chance to walk the bricked labyrinth. The bricks of the Peace Labyrinth are painted and decorated with loving messages. We discussed projects Loretto could support and general ways of being in community together.
We had met Mariel when she came to Loretto Motherhouse as part of a panel organized by the Nuns and Nones Land Justice Team. Knobs Haven will host the board of the Women’s Collaborative for a retreat in February. Another Loretto group was to join the Louisville women the following week to do some gardening and other outdoor work.
As an excellent example of serendipity, or perhaps even divine design, the group went from the West End Women’s Collaborative to a celebration, also in the West End, at the Sacred Earth Community Garden. On request of the members, Alicia Ramirez led a prayer for the opening. The purpose of the following moving ritual was to cleanse the soil of residual energy from gun violence in West Louisville. We joined in circling the perimeter of the garden, singing, responding and praying. Velvet Welch, who started the garden in 2022, had received a grant from the Loretto Carbon Reduction Fund to plant fruit trees. The trees are still saplings but healthy ones.
Another connection with Loretto is that Velvet Welch’s daughter, Christie, organized the visit to Loretto Motherhouse in 2022 of the Voices of Survivors group. This healing ritual reminded us of that earlier gathering at Loretto. There was pouring of soil collected from sites of violence into a raised bed where were then scattered seeds of hyssop and chamomile — for cleansing and rest. We marched around the perimeter of the garden chanting and singing, praying and observing silence to commemorate the losses and plan for the future.