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Loretto Welcomes Leslee Moore

Posted on November 1, 2019, by Maureen O'Connell SL

Leslee Moore tells her journey to Loretto. (Photo by Matthew Moore)

“‘Tis a gift to be simple, ‘tis a gift to be free;  ‘tis a gift to come down where we ought to be. And when we find ourselves in the place just right, ‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.”

Leslee Moore’s choice of this old Shaker hymn to open the celebration of her co-membership in Loretto is significant. As Leslee shared in her celebration reflection, “I did not find Loretto; rather, the Spirit of Loretto reached out and found me.”

The Motherhouse church was nearly full on the afternoon of Aug. 17. Embroidered cloth from Pakistan covered a table set just beneath the podium with pictures displayed of Leslee’s family. Joining many in the Motherhouse Community and other members from out of town were her husband, David, a son, Matt, and Leslee’s good friend Deborah and husband.

Eleanor Craig, a member of one of Leslee’s two IATW groups, welcomed all to this joyful occasion. Other members of Leslee’s first IATW group, Kaye Edwards, Dorothy Ortner, Mary Peter Bruce and Karel Disponett along with Susan Classen presented readings from the writings of Elaine Prevallet, Mary Ann Coyle and a psalm written by Mary Katherine Hammett. Interspersed with these readings, Loretto pianists Jessie Rathburn, JoAnn Gates and Mary Swain accompanied the full-throated singing of chosen hymns.

At left, Maureen O’Connell, Leslee Moore’s contact person, leads the applause for Leslee. (Photo by Matthew Moore)

I as Leslee’s contact person in her co-membership journey, with great assistance from co-member team liaison JoAnn Gates, described Leslee’s first experience with Loretto, a weekend retreat around Loretto spirituality and practices, organized by Loretto’s Outreach Committee. Leslee describes months earlier, in a spiritual search for something more, “having listened to an inner voice that has been with me since childhood” … guiding her “to the Loretto Community website, where the words, ‘We work for justice and act for peace,’ leapt off the page and into my heart.”

By the end of the retreat weekend in May 2017, Leslee shared that she believed she had found the spiritual home for which she was searching. After being accepted into Loretto’s co-membership program, Leslee approached her journey over the next two years with unbounded energy, enthusiasm and generosity. 

Leslee participated in two IATW groups, an on-line group studying Loretto history and had read 13 books by and about Loretto in the first six months! Reflecting her commitment to global justice, Leslee requested an internship with the Loretto Pakistan Mission Committee, of which she is now a full member.

In her celebration reflection Leslee expressed immense gratitude for her journey. “That quiet space deep within me knows this is where I belong — that, through the Community’s gifts, I have come down where I ought to be.

‘My commitment to the Loretto Community is as strong and as deep and as unwavering as the vows I made to David 44 years ago yesterday. My days of wandering are finally over. I am home.’

“For me, the journey that began in Knobs Haven is a lifelong commitment, a true calling. My commitment to the Loretto Community is as strong and as deep and as unwavering as the vows I made to David 44 years ago yesterday. My days of wandering are finally over. I am home.”

I read Barbara Nicholas’s letter of acceptance of Leslee’s commitment, which included these words, in part:

“Leslee, you have entered seriously into becoming acquainted with Loretto life, mission and spirituality. You have interned with the Pakistan Mission Committee, visited and participated in Community Groups. You have met Loretto in diverse geographies. You have regularly helped out in the Archives and Heritage Center, settled in a pew in the Motherhouse church, and sat at nearly every table in the dining room! … The Community Forum members recommend your acceptance, and I approve, welcome and celebrate you, Leslee Moore CoL.”  

The celebration concluded with a blessing written by Leslee’s IATW group and read by Mary Kay Brannan, with all present extending the blessing. Applause in the church was long, full and joyous!  Welcome to Loretto, Leslee!

Maureen O'Connell SL

Maureen O'Connell SL

Maureen lives in Jacksboro, Tenn., volunteers with a number of social justice and cultural groups in the area, is on several Loretto committees and boards, and grows a great vegetable garden!
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Loretto welcomes you

Learn more or plan a visit to the Motherhouse!