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Loretto Magazine – Fall 2023

Posted on September 22, 2023, by Loretto Community

Cover - Fall 2023 Loretto Magazine

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Loretto Spotlight Video – Nancy Wittwer SL

Nancy Wittwer SL talks about how her dream became Marian Middle School in this issue’s Spotlight Video

A letter from Loretto President Barbara Nicholas SL

Head shot of Sr. Barbara Nicholas taken outside on a sunny day.

One of the most memorable commentaries that Sister Mary Luke Tobin ever articulated came in reference to the Sisters of Loretto who made the decision to leave the congregation in the years following the Second Vatican Council. Mary Luke noted that these women had received high-quality educations at Webster College (now University), Loretto Heights College, or any number of other colleges and universities throughout their years in Loretto, and noted that this gift would never leave them but had the potential to inform and inspire so many other people whose lives they would touch.

Read the entire letter here.

Ried Clark CoL and Frances Marie Walsh SL honored

Three older white women in nice colorful clothing pose for a picture with a plaque that has music notes on it.

The Lumen Christi Award was given posthumously to Sister Frances Marie Walsh SL, and Loretto Co-member Ried Clark was honored with the Spirit of Loretto Distinguished Alumnae Award July 15 at the Loretto Heights all-classes reunion in Machebeuf Hall on the former Loretto Heights College (LHC) in Denver. Two of Frances Marie’s nieces, Michaela and Sarah Walsh of New York and New Jersey respectively, joined in the reunion activities.

Read the whole story here.

Students find fulfillment and camaraderie volunteering at Loretto Motherhouse in Kentucky

Three girls join together and smile for a picture as they take a break from spreading mulch.

Students from Loretto Academy in El Paso, Nerinx Hall High School in St. Louis and St. Mary’s Academy in Englewood, Colo., volunteered at the Motherhouse in Nerinx, Ky., for a week in June. Theresa O’Rourke, chaperone and librarian at Loretto Academy, said, “The trip was so wonderful and good for my soul. We enjoyed every minute, especially visiting with the sisters. I think the girls enjoyed planting and gardening and baking time. They also enjoyed the time they shared with the girls from the other schools.”

See more photos here.

Loretto education since 1812: A tradition of excellence

An old sepia toned photo of students studying in a library in front tall bookshelves.
Students study in the library at Loretto Academy in St. Louis, circa 1905. Photo courtesy of Loretto Archives.

History relates that at Hardin’s Creek in Kentucky in early 1812, 30-year-old Mary Rhodes began teaching her brother’s children and some of the local girls. As her class grew, Christina Stuart and Nancy Havern joined her in the work. The three women approached Fr. Charles Nerinckx to express their interest in forming a new order. On April 25, 1812, the Little Society of the Friends of Mary under the Cross of Jesus (later shortened to Sisters of Loretto at the Foot of the Cross), the first Catholic order begun in the United States, became official. Shortly, they were joined by others, and the order began to grow. By 1852, Sisters of Loretto were traveling to New Mexico to teach, followed in the 1860s by Colorado and in the 1870s, Texas. Later, their reach was global, as they opened schools in China, South America, Pakistan.

Read the whole story here.

Photo spread: Loretto classes through the years and education outside of the U.S.

A group of young students in a classroom holding stamps at their desks.

Enjoy the photos here.

100 years ago…

Sepia toned photo of a large crowd in front of the Loretto Academy school building in El Paso during its opening in 1923.

On the occasion of this important milestone, Mary E. “Buffy” Boesen SL writes:

It’s hard to believe that 100 years have gone by since Mother Praxedes’s dream of Loretto Academy in El Paso became a reality. I am grateful to those who have gone before us, particularly Eileen Custy SL, Bernice Hys SL and Jane Clarke SL, who steered Loretto Academy in the 21st century — for almost 40% of the school’s history.

Read the whole story here.

Schools founded by Sisters of Loretto carry on Loretto’s tradition of excellence

A large group of Nerinx Hall High School seniors in their white graduation caps and gowns throwing their caps in the air in celebration.

Webster University, previously Webster College, was founded in St. Louis by the Sisters of Loretto in 1915 and today is a thriving institution of higher learning with campuses worldwide, including in Athens, Vienna, Netherlands and Ghana. … As Webster continues to innovate to provide high quality educational experiences that transform students around the world for global citizenship and individual excellence, we build on the living example of Loretto.

Read the whole story here.

Educating Girls for Life at Marian Middle School in St. Louis

Marian Middle School students (wearing dark blue uniforms) spend time with graduates (wearing their current high school uniforms).

In December 1998 Nancy Wittwer SL read about Loyola Academy, a middle school for boys opening in St. Louis in the fall of 1999, and was moved to ask, “What about the girls?” The answer to that question blossomed, growing into Marian Middle School.

Under the initial leadership of Nancy and Ursuline Sister Madonna O’Hara, seven congregations of women religious came together and committed to opening a middle school for girls in St. Louis.

Read the whole story here.

Mary Luke Tobin Award 2023

Photo of a young white woman with blonde/brown hair smiling.

Adyson Hill has received the 2023 Mary Luke Tobin SL Social Justice Award. The award has been granted annually to a graduating senior at Holy Family High School in Broomfield, Colo., since 2012, and is a partial scholarship toward tuition.

Adyson’s concerns include supporting the dignity of all people, particularly those living in poverty; human rights; and care for God’s creation. She is attending Creighton University in Omaha, Neb.

Read the whole story here.

Mary Luke Tobin SL

An older woman with glasses and white hair photographed smiling wearing a pink blazer. She is standing in front of lush pine tree branches.

Mary Luke Tobin SL (Loretto’s superior general, 1958 – 1970) was one of 15 women invited to audit Vatican II proceedings in 1964. Though her role was limited, she later said, “I felt responsible for pushing the cause of women forward in the Church as much as I could. Of course, that was not very much, and there were all those who wanted to keep the Church where it was, if not further back.” Three women were invited to take part in sub-commissions. Mary Luke was pleased to participate in the laity commission and a commission on the Church in the modern world. She later wrote that, although the women could not vote, “We were able to speak at the commission meetings so that we could put our influence into the documents, and [we] helped form the final document that was produced.”

Read the whole story here.

For the love of Christ, for the love of teaching

Photo of two Pakistani middle aged girls wearing colorful clothing, one in green patterns and the other with yellow, red, green and black patterns smiling as they take a break from working on their school work which is displayed on the desk in front of them.

To my bafflement and grief, Sharifan Bibi, who is about 40, entered my school office, dumped herself on the chair and started crying. I gave her a glass of water and asked the reason for her crying. She said that she has three children: a boy who never went to school and is learning to repair motorcycles and two girls, 13 and 14, who never attended school and were looked after by their paternal grandmother. Now the grandmother has died, and what to do with the young growing daughters? Sharifan said she is hesitant to take her daughters to work with her to clean houses, and she can’t leave them alone at home.

Read the whole story here.

Join the Loretto Bequest Community

Photo of a small waterfall cascading down rocks in the midst of a rocky scene surround by trees with changing fall leaves of red, yellow, green and orange.

Loretto donors are essential to our work, and we are thankful for each of you. Loretto’s good work is also furthered by those who are now deceased and have left a gift in a will for Loretto. We are grateful for their thoughtful foresight. And we are grateful that in recent months, 75 current donors and friends have told us that they have included a gift for Loretto in their will or have committed to do so. You can join them in making a Loretto bequest.

Read the whole story here.

New Loretto books of interest

Image of book cover entitled "Women of Spirit, Courage and Action: A collection of stories that celebrate women across generations who have worked for justice and acted for peace" "Written and collected by the Loretto Feminist Networ"

The Loretto Feminist Network is pleased to offer “Women of Spirit, Courage and Action,” a collection of stories about the lives of those who embody the Loretto mission to work for justice and act for peace. Each section includes the story of a Loretto member who is matched with a young activist outside of the Community. For instance a section on living nonviolence includes the stories of Pat McCormick SL and X González of Parkland, Fla.

Read the whole story here.


Photo of an older woman with metal framed glasses and white hair wearing stud silver earrings giving a soft smile not looking at the camera. She is wearing a blue shirt with a lanyard that has the word "Loretto" repeating.
Photo: Peg Jacobs CoL

We honor all our 2023 Loretto Jubilarians, including these individuals celebrating major milestones.

Cabrini Bartolo SL
Magdalena McCloskey CoL
Edward Sakurai CoL
Vivian Doremus CoL
Patricia Hennessy CoL
Peg Jacobs CoL

Read the profiles of our Jubiliarians here.

Memorials and Tributes of Honor: May-August 2023



Dear Loretto Friends,

This time of year brings up memories for me of going back to school. Whether it was getting new pencils and notebooks, entering a different grade or heading off to college, it was a time of new beginnings and possibilities.

Many members of the Loretto Community greeted fall as teachers: teachers in schools across the United States and around the world; teachers who often provided the first educational opportunities for girls; teachers who opened new schools and colleges; teachers who made a profound difference in people’s lives.

We are blessed that you often share the impact of your Loretto education with us: “Loretto taught me that a woman could do or be anything she wanted.” “Loretto taught me courage in the face of adversity.” “Loretto showed love to my father when his parents couldn’t.” “Loretto took my mother in when she was orphaned.” “Loretto taught me to use my God-given gifts for others.” “Loretto taught me to make a positive impact in the world.” There are many notes of gratitude for the elementary, high school and college teachers whose names you remember well.

Education still thrives in Loretto. Sisters of Loretto in Pakistan have been teaching children, women and seminarians for years. Loretto has established long-term relationships with sisters operating schools in Ghana, Haiti and Guatemala. Students in Loretto-founded middle and high schools learn about Loretto values and the mandate to “work for justice and act for peace.” Loretto co-members educate all of us about immigration issues, women’s rights, care for Earth and more.

Keep your pencils sharpened. We still have much to learn from Loretto and from each other. Thank you for continuing to share your gifts and memories with us and your talents with the world.

Virginia Nesmith
Loretto Development Director


Loretto Community

We are Sisters and Co-members who strive to bring the healing spirit of God into our world.
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Loretto welcomes you

Learn more or plan a visit to the Motherhouse!

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Loretto welcomes you

Learn more or plan a visit to the Motherhouse!