Loretto Sister Communities: Beyond the Boundaries of Our Hearts
“Rejoicing in and strengthened by our mutual love, we go forth to meet our farther neighbors in their human needs and aspirations. We seek to reach out beyond boundaries imposed by any differences that tend to separate us.”“I Am the Way,” Loretto’s Constitutions, #35
In 1988, the Daughters of the Most Blessed Trinity (FST) and Loretto became Sister Communities. The Holy Family Sisters (HFS or, in Spanish, “Las Hermanas de la Sagrada Familia”) in Guatemala and Loretto became Sister Communities in 1994. The development of these community relationships was an opportunity for Loretto members to go beyond boundaries to learn, to listen, to love. It was an opportunity to create a partnership with sisters in other communities, in other countries, to discover their mission work and to establish friendship. By doing so, we found out about our new sisters and about ourselves. Loretto came to these relationships in humility, compassion and support.
The intent of the Sister Community relationships has always been a mutual one. The effort to work in partnerships has taught us how to contribute to a more just and compassionate world and to shift our focus toward a deeper understanding of the mission efforts the HFS and FST Sisters were undertaking.
Pope Francis in Laudato Si’ wrote, “We need not think that our efforts are going to change the world. They benefit society, often unbeknown to us, for they call forth a goodness which, albeit unseen, inevitably tends to spread.”
The Loretto Community began service in Ghana some 24 years ago. In 2003 discussions began with the Daughters of the Most Blessed Trinity – a Ghanaian community founded in 1984 to minister to the poor – about building a school in Akokoamong on land that had been given to them by the village’s queen mother. The need for quality education in this impoverished area made the partnership a good fit, as providing education to those in need is a value that has been part of our Loretto heritage since our founding in 1812. The school opened in September 2009 with 25 students, and enrollment has continued to grow. The FST Sisters have visited the Loretto Assemblies, and on those occasions have given updates to the Community about their work in Ghana.
The opportunity to cross borders with the HFS Sisters in Guatemala was certainly more than geographic. The Sister Community relationship made impressions on Loretto that will live forever in our history. It is a journey of hope and thanksgiving. It is a journey of sisterhood that opened our eyes to the plight of those serving in Central America.
The relationship began in 1994 to enrich one another spiritually and culturally and to support one another in the mission and work of each congregation. Since then Loretto sisters and co-members have visited the schools of the HFS, worked with them in their missions, and participated in regional meetings and conferences in Guatemala. Holy Family Sisters have attended and addressed our Assemblies, visited Loretto centers and participated in events at the United Nations. Although language continues to be a challenge, both groups feel this relationship has been valuable and enriching. The Loretto and Holy Family Sister Community committees continue to seek new ways to work together for peace and justice.
“Both in its internal structures and in its active mission, both individually and communally, Loretto was moving to integrate an expanding worldview. With open hearts and minds, with creativity and trust, the Loretto Community found ways to respond to a beckoning future. The foundational legacy of the early pioneer women lives on.”Patricia Jean (PJ) Manion SL, an excerpt from “Century of Change,” p. 159