Remembrance of the Life of Sister Frances Zoghby SL
Frances Gertrude Zoghby was the eldest of nine children of George Kaleel and Emma Kahalley Zoghby. Her father was born in Beirut, which was Syria at the time, now Lebanon. Her mother was a native of Mobile, Ala., and the Zoghbys raised their family there in Immaculate Conception Cathedral Parish. Of Frances’ siblings in this close knit family, three are living, as well as three of their spouses. Miriam, Cecilia and Raymond have been Frances’ faithful companions especially in her final years, visiting her at Loretto Motherhouse and arranging wonderful traditional meals for the whole Community to celebrate Frances’ birthdays and anniversaries.
Frances began her association with the Sisters of Loretto at Immaculate Conception Grade School and then at Bishop Toolen High School. Her high school memory book is in her personnel file. In it she lists her personality assets as a good disposition and a generous nature. Comments by fellow students and teachers say the same.
Frances graduated from high school in 1940 and, although she expressed the desire to join Loretto, her family preferred that she wait, and in the meantime enter the family business. For more than five years, she was owner and manager of Zoghby’s Grocery Store in Prichard, Ala. In 1945 Frances again pursued a religious vocation, talking with the Sisters in Mobile about her desire to join Loretto. A year later, leaving letters for her Mother and Father, Frances slipped away to the novitiate. A small card in her file in Reverend Mother Edwarda’s handwriting says: “This telegram was received by Frances who left home two days ago.” The telegram was from her parents: “Dear Frances, Letters received. Miss you much. Take good care of yourself. Don’t worry about us. Write often. Glad you are happy. God bless you. Letter follows. Love, Mother and Daddy.”
Frances was received into the novitiate Aug. 15, 1946, taking the name Sister George Frances, by which she was known until the late 1960s. She made her first vows Aug. 15, 1948, and her final vows three years later. From the novitiate Frances was sent to Illinois to teach grade school at Highland Park. She was there seven years, then spent another seven years teaching in Highwood, Sterling and finally Rockford. She went briefly to Loretto Academy Santa Fe, N.M., and Holy Family, Denver. All the while Frances worked on her undergraduate degree, first at Barat College in Chicago, then at Loretto Heights, Denver. She completed the bachelor’s degree at the Heights in 1966 with a major in education.
In 1966 Frances returned to her home state to teach, first at Our Lady Queen of Mercy, Montgomery, and then in 1969 at Christ the King, Daphne. In Daphne she formed a working partnership and friendship with Loretto Sister Pat Buetenbach, who was then superior and principal of the school. Together they brought Loretto’s work in Daphne to a close in 1972 and together moved to Denver, where they worked at St. John Parish School. In 1977 they began a 20-year collaboration as managers and consultants for the World Book Child Craft Collections. They earned two paid trips to Hawaii and one to Spain. They also made several trips to the company headquarters in Chicago and to conventions in Dallas. Frances and Pat faithfully served many schools in the Denver region, including St. Mary’s Academy, where they were well known, especially by the librarian.
Pat Buetenbach moved to Loretto Motherhouse Infirmary in 1998 and Frances followed in 2000. For three years at Loretto these fast friends included family and Sisters in their warm and welcoming friendship. Just before Pat died in 2003, Frances and two of her sisters were at her bedside.
Frances celebrated her 90th birthday last year with gusto, surrounded by her Loretto and Zoghby family. Her final difficult months were eased by the nearly constant companionship of her sisters Miriam and Cecilia. Frances died quietly late evening Oct. 29 in the 68th year of her life as a Sister of Loretto.
Some years ago, Frances wrote “I would prefer to be buried at our beloved Loretto with the solemnity and beautiful music which our Sisters usually provide.” It is our pleasure to satisfy the last desire of Sister Frances Zoghby, a truly generous woman.