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Loretto Justice Fellows’ Spring Retreat

Posted on April 17, 2024, by Annie Rosenkranz

Eight woman stand in a group photo smiling in casual clothing in front of a sign that says "Kelly Center for Hunger Relief"
From left, Arantza De Jesus, Alicia Villarreal, Annie Rosenkranz, Anabel Theriault, Jessica Garcia Nungaray, Karemy Cruz, Brenda Varela and Larissa Meza.
Photo courtesy of Annie Rosenkranz

Recently the Loretto Justice Fellows gathered for spring retreat, spending the morning serving with Kelly Center for Hunger Relief, sharing lunch with Loretto Community members and spending the afternoon in reflection in nature. Along with nourishing ourselves with good food, movement and laughter, we reflected on our year together and on our paths in justice ahead.

For Justice Fellow Anabel Theriault, her experience of community was one of the most impactful components of her Loretto Justice Fellowship experience: “One of my very favorite parts about the Fellowship has been the community life experience. Being able to carve time out of my schedule to spend time building connections could have felt like a chore or an added strain on my already very full schedule, but it was just the opposite. I looked forward to every community meal, Zoom call and the retreat days. Having not only my peers, but the broader Loretto Community walk with me during this experience has been a blessing. The bonds I have created within the community are invaluable. Being in spaces where people feel the same drive and desire for change as I do has empowered me and filled me with renewed hope about what the future can look like. Being part of the pilot year of the Loretto Justice Fellowship has reinforced that I belong here, in spaces filled with hope, among people who have the same fire for helping, serving and change.”

Arantza de Jesus, Loretto Justice Fellow at Estrella del Paso, reflects on the perspective she’s gained in supporting legal services work alongside her team. “My internship has made me realize how help can come in different ways and forms. I am grateful for all the small tasks that other people have done for me. My participation in this fellowship has made me discover the importance of community, communication and helping each other. Even when we think they don’t, small actions create big outcomes. When I started my internship, I thought I was going to be saving lives on a daily basis. I thought that my contributions were so small that they were meaningless. I felt like I wasn’t helping at all.

“As I continued learning, I realized that all of those small things were highly important and necessary for greater things to happen. When I started working on cases of my own I realized how important those small tasks are/were. It wasn’t until then that I realized that I was, in fact, saving lives… just not in the way that I thought I was going to. We might sometimes think that small things are not important; but the truth is that they are. All tasks are important, it doesn’t matter if they are big or small, they all can lead to an important outcome.”

Loretto Justice Fellow Brenda Varela talks about the ways her experience of the program have impacted her this year and her perspective into the future: “My internship (at Ciudad Nueva) has helped me engage and think further about social justice, now and after I graduate. As for community life, it has broadened my perspective on social justice, and how I can help. I’ve heard about Loretto’s work toward social justice from the people who have done the work, and the impact they’ve made and continue to make has been very inspiring to me. I’ve talked about it before, but as Loretto Justice Fellows, we’ve been able to create a safe space where we’re all supportive of the others, where we all come in and share stuff that’s going on at our internships, at school, or even our personal lives. I also think it’s added some complexity in all the good ways.”

The Loretto Justice Fellowship experience is one defined by community — Fellows participate in and co-create community programming to enhance personal and professional development, individually and collectively. Together, we build our skills and connections for sustaining our work for justice and systemic change through the Fellowship year and beyond.

To read more of the fellow’s reflections visit the Loretto Justice Fellowship Facebook page.


Annie Rosenkranz

Annie is the Director of the Loretto Volunteer Program. She joins the Loretto Volunteer Program after spending the previous 7+ years working in international initiatives and student services at Saint Louis University in St. Louis, MO. Annie's passions lie in travel, all things food, camping, adventure and nature. Her approach to work and life is rooted in solidarity, growing in community, seeking justice and nurturing relationships.
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