Profiles of Community Leadership

Meet the new team for 2016-2018! Below are brief biographies of our newly elected president, vice president, Executive Committee and Community Forum.

Loretto Forum: From left, first row, are Mary Ellen McElroy SL, Vice President Marlene Spero SL and Barbara Nicholas SL; second row, Karen Cassidy CoL, Lillian Moskeland CoL, Buffy Boesen SL and Riedy Clark CoL; third row, Mary Helen Sandoval CoL, Mary Ann McGivern SL, Jane German CoL and President Pearl McGivney SL.

Loretto Forum: From left, first row, are Mary Ellen McElroy SL, Vice President Marlene Spero SL and Barbara Nicholas SL; second row, Karen Cassidy CoL, Lillian Moskeland CoL, Buffy Boesen SL and Riedy Clark CoL; third row, Mary Helen Sandoval CoL, Mary Ann McGivern SL, Jane German CoL and President Pearl McGivney SL.

Pearl McGivney SL, President
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1942, shortly after Pearl Harbor, I was named in memory of those who died there. Perhaps my commitment to peace in our fragile world began in the womb.

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Brentwood, N.Y., taught me through high school, and inspired me to be a missionary to the poor. After high school, I entered the Sisters of St. Joseph novitiate and attended Brentwood College and later Manhattan College. After eight years of teaching in elementary and high school, my eyes were opened to the social and environmental issues of that time. During a summer course at Notre Dame, I met the farm workers and knew my mission and commitment was to work for justice for them.

I began a new life in 1971 when I responded to an invitation to come to La Paz, Calif., the headquarters of the United Farm Workers. There I met Loretto through Ruth Shy SL and received an invitation to work with the farm workers in California and later in Florida, also doing “accompaniment” work in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Mexico and Haiti. The people who live south of the border are burned deeply in my heart and have taught me to walk in solidarity with those who live marginally.

Throughout these years, I met more Sisters of Loretto who lived Loretto’s values, and in 1982 I requested to transfer my vows to Loretto. I am eternally grateful to both the General Superior of my former community and to Marian McAvoy, then Loretto’s president, for facilitating this process. Loretto has offered me leadership opportunities within the Community and has been a constant support of Farmworker ministry.


Marlene Spero SL, Vice President — Executive Committee, Community Forum
A Denver native, I met the Sisters of Loretto at Holy Family High School. After graduation in 1958, I entered Loretto as one of 48 postulants.

I chose to major in chemistry and spent many years teaching science and math to high school, college and graduate students at Loretto Academy in Kansas City, Mo., Loretto Heights College in Denver and Webster College (University) extensions in Kansas City and Denver. Some of those years were spent in educational administration as well as teaching.

When Loretto Heights College closed in 1988 I accepted the challenge to develop and teach a computer curriculum for Havern School’s learning disabled students in Littleton, Colo. After 14 years at Havern, it was time to retire from the teaching I loved. It was fun and challenging to work with students from 5 through 55, from kindergarten to graduate school. Helping people of all ages learn to meet life’s challenges has been a rewarding and fulfilling mission.

When the Denver Center needed a bookkeeper I volunteered and have continued to fill that role for the past 16 years. For 6 of those years I also served with Mary Ellen McElroy SL as co-coordinator of the Denver Loretto Center.

When there is time for relaxation, I enjoy Colorado’s beautiful mountains, reading, listening to music, tinkering with things that need fixing and learning new things about people, the world and the universe. (3-31-16)


Buffy Boesen SL  – Executive Committee, Community Forum
For many years I was a middle school teacher. I taught children with learning disabilities and emotional issues. In 1986, I was given the opportunity to walk on the Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament (GPM) from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., and in l987 the Soviet/US Peace March (Leningrad to Moscow).

I returned to the classroom after the GPM and a very brief stint on the Loretto Community staff. After completing a master’s in social work, I worked for several years as a community organizer organizing families to change welfare policies both nationally and in Colorado.

In 2000, I was approached about applying for an interim position as president of Loretto Academy in El Paso. I am still there and report that it is most exciting to see young children grow into mature young adults when they graduate.

My first love is teaching, and I have found teaching moments in organizing and administration. Through organizing and witnessing, I have been moved to see the wonder of leadership development among those receiving public assistance who are enabled to develop their leadership skills while in school. (4-4-16)


Mary Ellen McElroy SL – Executive Committee, Community Forum
I was born and raised on a ranch in the small town of Kremmling, Colo., in 1936, with two older brothers, and one younger sister and brother.  I attended public grade and high schools and attended Loretto Heights College for three years. In 1957 I entered the Sisters of Loretto.  I completed my bachelor’s degree at Webster College in St. Louis and a master’s at St. Louis University.

My first teaching assignment was at Mary Queen of Peace Grade School in Webster Groves, Mo., where I taught fifth and sixth departmental math and science.  In 1965 I was assigned at St. Rose of Lima in St. Louis, where I taught middle and upper grades and was principal for the last five years.

After a nine-month sabbatical in a transition program at SLU, I spent nine years at St. Justin the Martyr Parish in Sunset Hills, Mo., directing the PSR (Parish School of Religion) program and starting a support group for divorced and widowed folks.  A sub-group of us started the Beginning Experience Program (a process for divorced/widowed) in St. Louis, and I served on the team and board for several years.

In the mid-80s I became certified as a chaplain and in 1987 was a member of the Pastoral Care Department at St. Anthony Hospital North in Denver.  In 2006 I worked as a bereavement counselor at Hospice of Peace in Denver.  I became certified as a spiritual director from the Benet Hill Monastery in Colorado Springs, Colo., in 2000 and have continued in that ministry today.

I enjoy playing golf and puttering with redoing picnic tables and other wooden artifacts! (4-19-16)


Mary Ann McGivern SL – Executive Committee, Community Forum
I work to build a peace economy. I founded the Peace Economy Project (then known as the St. Louis Economic Conversion Project) in 1977. It is going strong today, and I serve on its board of directors. PEP, as it is affectionately known, tracks military spending, especially in St. Louis, and makes the case over and over that it is wrong to build weapons because we need the jobs.

For 30 years I lived at the Catholic Worker in St. Louis, providing hospitality to homeless men and women. I became the director of Project COPE, a prisoner re-entry program, in 2006. Since my retirement I have continued to work with men and women released from prison as chair of the Empower Missouri Criminal Justice Task Force. As a task force member I urge the Missouri legislature to save money and improve public safety by alternative sentencing, shorter sentencing, better job training and community addiction treatment. As a St. Louis chapter board member, I help plan forums that advocate for social change. As a board member of Empower Missouri and the Peace Economy Project, I belong to a working group, the Table, that carries out recommendations made by the Ferguson Commission Report. I write regularly for the National Catholic Reporter and Disarmament Times and edit some issues of Loretto’s in-house newsletter Interchange.

In 1959 at age 17 I entered Loretto. Because of the Community’s commitment to justice for farm workers, I learned non-violence on the picket line, saw the effects of systemic injustice and took the opportunities Loretto offers to stand with the poor. I serve on the Loretto Committee for Peace and the Guatemala Sister Community Committee. I am a gardener. (4-1-16)


Barbara Nicholas SL – Executive Committee, Community Forum
Educated at Webster College in St. Louis, Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., and Adelphi University in Garden City N.Y., I was happy to become a science teacher at Visitation-Holy Ghost Schools in St. Louis for two years; to work as a nurse and director of nursing at Loretto Motherhouse Infirmary in Nerinx, Ky., in the 1970s, and then to have a third career as an oncology nurse with the Baptist Healthcare System in Louisville, Ky.

During these years, I served as nurse manager for the oncology unit, developed 25 annual oncology symposia for multidisciplinary health care professionals and helped open Louisville’s first Cancer Resource Center. I now co-facilitate support groups for women with breast cancer and help with other aspects of program development.

I also had the opportunity to work on the Community Life Staff of the Sisters of Loretto in the areas of health and wellness. In 1994, I was elected to the Executive Committee and served two terms as vice president. In 2015, I was again elected to the Executive Committee and Community Forum. I served three terms on the Motherhouse Coordinating Board and now am a member of the Advisory Board of the Motherhouse Infirmary. (4-4-16)


Karen Cassidy CoL  –  Community Forum
I live in Louisville, Ky. For more than 30 years, I taught nursing school. Currently, I serve as the executive director of Hildegard House, a nonprofit organization that provides end-of-life care to those who have no home or family.

I have three grown children. Ned, the oldest, teaches at Mercy Academy. Katie is a nurse, and Joseph is a banker. In my spare time, I love to garden and cook.

I have been a Co-member for more than 10 years, and I love to spend time at the Motherhouse with my “big sisters.” (3-31-16)


Reid Clark CoL – Community Forum
I was born and raised in Michigan, the youngest of five children. We were very blessed by a stable, exuberant extended Irish Catholic family. As kids, we were taught the importance of charity toward others as we watched both of our parents, in their own ways, be of service to people less fortunate than ourselves. My elementary school education was with the Adrian Dominicans and high school with the Sisters of Charity from Cincinnati.

I always say that the Spirit brought me to Loretto because I had no contact with Loretto until college. My oldest sister had heard there was a “great” Catholic women’s liberal arts college in Denver. I had to do some research to find the name of the school (without the help of the Internet). My choice to attend Loretto Heights in 1967 was a life-enhancing one. The changes from the Second Vatican Council, the Civil Rights movement, Vietnam War protests, the War on Poverty and the Farm Workers struggles were all in motion. I was drawn to involvement in social justice issues in a way which I never would have expected.

As part of my studies at the Heights, I spent two semesters and two summers with Loretto in Bolivia. What a gift and opportunity that time was! In addition to enhancing my Spanish skills, I was able to absorb the cultural richness of the Aymara people and also learn of the U.S. role in the politics and economics of the region. Working and living with Loretto Sisters there turned me into a bit of a “sponge,” and I continued to absorb Loretto’s mission to “work for justice and act for peace.”

I completed my bachelor’s degree from Loretto Heights in 1971 (Spanish and social science). I went on to get a master’s in Latin American studies from the University of New Mexico, a master’s in social work from the University of Texas at Austin and my School Psychology Endorsement from the University of Colorado. My work experience included patient representative work for Kaiser Permanente, child protective services work in Houston, and teaching adult education and conducting medical social work at Denver General Hospital. The last 25 years of my career were spent as a bilingual psychologist/social worker for the Denver Public Schools. I believe strongly that my career was always guided by Loretto values, which led me to be an advocate for the children and families with whom I had the opportunity to work. I retired in 2011. I have been a co-member for almost 40 years. In addition to serving on the Forum, I am a member of the Responsible Planning Committee.

My free time is spent entertaining my two kitties, who are good little travelers and go with me to my cabin in the mountains and also travel in my small RV. Water aerobics is very enjoyable to me and serves to keep me relatively sane. I also enjoy reading and counted cross-stitch projects. (5-12-16)


Jane German CoL – Community Forum

I grew up in a small town in rural Illinois, the child of older parents and grandparents. My father’s family were Catholics. All his family siblings married non-Catholics. I attended public schools and universities.

In high school I spent a year in Beaver Dam, Ky. There I learned a lot about my faith since I was only one of at most 10 Catholic students in the whole school. My Baptist friends would ask questions and I would go home at night to ask my father why Catholics did this or that.

I graduated from the University of Missouri in Columbia with a bachelor’s degree in math and science education, returning in the summers to get my elementary education certification. I taught on the Navajo reservation in Thoreau, N.M., for 30 years. During these years, I earned two master’s degrees in elementary and special education. My favorite teaching position was first grade. In addition, I did reading and math labs and special education.

I met the Sisters of Loretto while living in Thoreau, N.M. Many stayed with me when they came to visit or work with Angela Bianco SL. In 2003 I moved to El Paso, Texas, to become the elementary school principal at Loretto Academy. It has given me an opportunity to participate in a larger Loretto Community of vowed and co-members.

I have spent more than 40 years of my life as a minority: first in New Mexico among the Navajos and now in El Paso with the Hispanics. They have given me a rich appreciation for different culutres.

I was first appointed to the Loretto Education Committee. Since then I have served on the Forum and was part of the 2012 Loretto Jubilee Committee. I currently am serving on the Loretto Pakistan Committee and the Forum.

I enjoy working outside in the yard, reading and playing computer games.

A favorite quote of mine is the following:

Live your questions now, and perhaps even without knowing it, you will live along some distant day into your answers.”

– Rainer Maria Rilke


Lillian Moskeland CoL  –  Community Forum
John and I have been married for 50 years. One year after marriage we had twin sons, Mark and Jude, who died the day after an early birth. We have one daughter, Andrea. Today four grandchildren, Mike, Ben, Sam and Sofi, a new granddaughter-in-law, Stephany, and a wonderful son-in-law, Vincent Cobb, give us joy.

We currently live in Centerville (Dayton), Ohio, after many career moves for John and me.

In Alabama, I learned to play the guitar. In Texas, I accompanied music at Mass and eventually became choir director. In moves to Fordyce, then Crossett, Ark., I returned to teaching. There, the Foreign Language department consisted of me teaching four levels each of Spanish and French.

We moved to Shreveport, La., where I taught nine years of high school Spanish before moving on to Louisiana State University in Shreveport in 1995 to teach Spanish. I always have considered teaching my mission, being alert to respect my students caringly and spiritually. At that time, I became a member of the Loretto Community. I have served the Investment Committee and the Forum, along with editing Interchange, the Community’s internal newsletter.

In 2001, I was asked to be on the board of the Philadelphia Center in Shreveport, a position of which I proudly held for six years. Philadelphia Center is a nonprofit that works to support those infected with HIV/AIDS, houses men and women, celebrates LGBTQ and their families and works to educate the public about LGBTQ. I have taken this mission seriously and continue to support it even from a distance.

During the 2000s, I finished a master’s degree in liberal arts. John and I co-founded with friends the White Wing Dove Renewal Center, filling a need for an ecumenical spiritual center in the area. We were able to maintain the center and serve the people of the area until 2012 when we moved to Ohio. After 45 years in various classrooms, I retired from teaching in 2010.

My avocation is writing. I work on fiction and continue to locally publish poetry. I also served on the Arts Board in Bossier, La. Southern living has offered me varied opportunities to new adventures.

In our new location it is my pleasure to be a doting grandmother to my grandchildren. This however, doesn’t seem to keep me from participating in my community. I serve on the board of the League of Women Voters of the Greater Dayton Area, and continue my writing with Women Writing for Change and other groups. John and I have joined a Seniors Enrichment Center where we dabble in art, taking lessons. We enjoy being an example of growing old for our four grandchildren. (3-31-16)


Mary Helen Sandoval CoL – Community Forum

I was born in 1943 in Brainerd, Minn., the youngest of six children. In 1961, I went to Loretto Heights College. After graduating with a degree in math, with minors in education and physics, I entered the Loretto novitiate in Denver. At that time I was a very conservative Republican and was concerned that the readings at breakfast were extremely slanted with a liberal perspective. I talked with Sister Cecily about this and she encouraged me to bring any readings I thought appropriate. Her openness made a huge impact and enabled me to listen with new ears and an open heart.

During my years in the novitiate I was given the opportunity to interact and get to know people living in poverty. Slowly, I learned the meaning of social justice. As time went on I came to recognize this fit with my own values much more than the principles of the Republican Party. The commitment to peace and justice has been central in my life ever since. I am grateful to Loretto for the gift of dramatically altering my life.

After three and a half years, I left the order and taught in inner city Catholic schools in Denver. I married Paul Sandoval and nine months later we left for Honduras to volunteer for two years with the Jesuits in El Progreso. Although our time there was cut short, it was long enough to witness extreme poverty, gross injustice and horrific living conditions. The memories are forever imprinted in my being and radically changed my worldview. Paul and I had four wonderful daughters. Now I have six grandchildren, ranging in age from 6 to 19.

Professionally, Paul and I started a tamale business, which became very successful. Later, I directed a non-profit organization whose mission was building community and revitalizing inner city neighborhoods. I also developed affordable housing throughout the State of Colorado working with Mercy Housing.

I longed to re-establish a deeper connection to Loretto and became a Co-member 17 years ago. Since then, I have been active on several committees, including the Loretto Land Use Committee, Pakistan Committee, Papal Bull Rescission Committee and Retreat Planning Committee for young people connected to Loretto.

Today, my days are filled with my work as a realtor, volunteering with some local non-profits as well as Loretto committees and happily assisting with care for my grandchildren. I am blessed to have a large vegetable garden, which keeps me connected to the earth. (5-19-16)

Comments are closed.