Loretto Outreach fosters connections
By Christina Manweller with Sandra Hareld CoL
“How can people be connected to Loretto who share our values?” Sandra Hareld CoL, who has served as Loretto’s Outreach Coordinator for the past eight years, shares the Outreach Team’s pivotal question. Thus far, the answer lies in offerings that include retreats, study groups, workshops, Circle gatherings, an online contemplative prayer group and virtual solstice and equinox celebrations.
Loretto Outreach’s hospitality is rooted in Henri Nouwen’s writings, Sandra says. “Open up a space where people can come and be themselves and discover the presence of God for themselves in their own life,” she explains. “It’s creating a space of warmth, of openness, of safety, where people can explore their connection with the divine, as well as with other people and with nature.”
Loretto Outreach has offered retreats since 2014. Sandra’s hope for those attending a retreat is that they “come and refresh themselves spiritually, emotionally, physically and mentally; they come away from their daily activity and find a place of prayer and peace, and a place where they can reflect on certain topics, connect with others and discuss those topics.” In the past, contemplative prayer, lectio divina, tai chi or qigong have been offered, in addition to spiritual sharings by Loretto Community members. Retreats in recent years have been offered at the Loretto Motherhouse in Nerinx, Ky., St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, Colo., and most recently in Florissant, Mo.
Sandra enjoys experiencing others’ insights during the retreats. Describing an Outreach retreat’s spiritual context, she says, “I see it as a very broad expression of spirituality. We have a background of ecospirituality as well as contemplative prayer and lectio divina.” The Outreach Team includes members with Buddhist and Sufi backgrounds.
Loretto Circles also bring together Loretto Community members and non-Community individuals who are interested in connecting with and learning about Loretto. Circles meet regularly online or in person.
Loretto Outreach began in 2013 to provide learning opportunities for potential Community members. Over the years it has grown into a group that fosters connections between Loretto and those with common interests in the areas of spirituality, care for Earth and social justice. Connections are also cultivated with Loretto Link, a non-canonical organization founded to carry forward the mission and spirit of Loretto.
To learn more about Loretto Outreach or request the Outreach e-newsletter, please visit the website. (Fill in the contact form to request the newsletter.)
To read all the articles in the Winter 2022-2023 issue of Loretto Magazine, click here.