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Loretto students learn about life in Pakistan

Posted on November 5, 2019, by Mary Helen Sandoval CoL

Iswari Natarajan, high school principal at St. Mary’s Academy in Denver, chatting with Nasreen ahead of the presentation.

Nasreen Daniel, Samina Iqbal and Maria Daniel, three Loretto sisters living in Lahore, Pakistan, were asked by the local bishop to take over operations at St. Anthony’s School, which teaches children from preschool through eighth grade. The students, Christian and Muslim, come from the neighborhoods surrounding the area where our sisters live, called Green Town. Most of the families struggle to get by.

Loretto Schools in the United States have employed various fundraising projects that have helped support the school in Pakistan through financial contributions. Recently, Nasreen was in the United States for meetings and was able to extend her stay. She said, “It had always been my desire to visit our Loretto schools in the United States and thank each person personally for their sensitivity to the needs of those who are not as fortunate. It was a God-given opportunity for me to stay longer in the United States and travel to the schools.”

Leslee Moore, a new Loretto co-member, drove Nasreen from the Loretto Motherhouse to Nerinx Hall, a high school in St. Louis. To Nasreen’s delight she had the opportunity to speak to all of the high school students. She was thrilled with the positive and compassionate response.

Shortly after her presentation, in fact the same day, Lydia Peña SL received an email from Sarah Ruttencutter, a Nerinx student, saying she was so inspired by Nasreen’s talk that she wanted to travel to Pakistan to volunteer with the Loretto mission. Although it was not possible for Sarah to go to Pakistan, after discussions exploring what she would like to do to meet some of the needs of our school in Lahore, Nasreen found a way for her to become involved with the mission: She would teach English to the Pakistani teachers. Sarah developed interesting methods for improving their competencies, and with the help of Zoom video conferencing, Sarah and the teachers met “face-to-face” every Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m. (10:00 p.m. for Sarah in St. Louis).

In Pakistan, the government requires that most classes be taught in English. The teachers are grateful for Sarah’s tutoring, which has improved their English language skills and, as they say, drastically improved their teaching.

Sarah, standing beside Maria Daniel SL, wears a shalwar
kameez made by participants
in Loretto Empowering
Women in Pakistan: a gift to
thank her for her many hours
of work.

What a wonderful contribution Sarah, a high school senior, has made to the teachers, and therefore to the students, in Pakistan. Sarah’s life, too, has been enriched by this opportunity to interact with those halfway across the globe.

We give You glory thanks and praise.
O bless our works and guide our ways.

Nasreen’s next stop was at St. Mary’s Academy in Denver. Regina Drey SL coordinated Nasreen’s time at St. Mary’s and made the visit a productive one. The student body is made up of preschool through high school students so Nasreen spoke to small groups. Nasreen said, “I was touched by the questions from the little ones when they heard that some children have to walk for an hour or more to come to the school. The solution was found by a little gentleman in the lower school at St. Mary’s. He wanted to provide bicycles for all. The desire to help those in need was so prevalent.” Nasreen was moved by the students’ close attention and the compassion demonstrated by students at all grade levels.

St. Mary’s first graders later sponsored a fundraiser in which they performed chores for family and neighbors, raising $1,700. Little hands can do big work. In addition, the middle school sent $500 from their fundraising to Pakistan for the Loretto Empowering Women in Pakistan project.

We give You glory thanks and praise.
O bless our works and guide our ways.

From Denver, Nasreen travelled to Loretto Academy in El Paso, Texas. From preschoolers to high school seniors, Nasreen was greeted with enthusiasm and curiosity. She remarked, “I saw the same excitement among the listeners, and sensitivity accompanied by questions like: ‘What can we do for you in Pakistan to help make a difference in the lives of the people associated with Loretto there?’ It was so obvious that generosity of heart is inculcated in the students and the staff.”

Before leaving Loretto Academy, President Mary E. “Buffy” Boesen SL gave Nasreen a $5,000 check. This money will go far toward securing supplies and paying teacher salaries in Pakistan.

We give You glory thanks and praise.
O bless our works and guide our ways.

St. Mary’s first graders learn about kids’ lives in Pakistan.

At the request of Loretto Co-member Mary Ann Lovett, Nasreen then traveled to San Antonio to visit Rolling Hills Catholic School and Antonian Middle School where Mary Ann is employed. Mary Ann suggested the notion of a sister school. “All of the students from both schools welcomed me and inquired about various ways to be in contact and learn from each other,” Nasreen said. Since the time of Nasreen’s visit, Mary Ann has sent letters written by the middle school students, accompanied by their school photos, to the upper-grade students at St. Anthony’s in Pakistan. Mary Ann reported, “Our goal is to create siblings halfway around the world. We hope that they will invest in each other’s well-being as well as become ‘family.’”

The response from staff and students at the four Loretto schools was amazing. It is encouraging to know that the Loretto values of justice and peace, which do much to foster equality, are so strong in those touched by Loretto.

Nasreen extends her thanks to all of her friends who made these visits possible.

We give You glory thanks and praise.
O bless our works and guide our ways.

Nasreen and kindergarten students, Rolling Hils Catholic School, San Antonio
Nasreen sharing a slide presentation with students.
Nasreen with Loretto Academy students in El Paso.

Mary Helen Sandoval CoL

Mary Helen Sandoval CoL

Mary Helen has been a Loretto Co-member for 20 years. She serves on several Loretto committees and is a member of the Forum. Previously, she developed affordable housing. When not involved in Loretto activities she volunteers with an alternative high school in Denver and interacts with her family and six grandkids.
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Loretto welcomes you

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