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Spotlight on Loretto Wisdom Women

Posted on May 1, 2023, by Joy Jensen SL

Editor’s note: We are featuring interviews of Loretto Community elders. We are grateful to the sisters and to Joy Jensen for sharing wonderful snapshots of our beloved Community members.

April showers bring May flowers. And whom do May flowers bring? Not pilgrims, but Loretto Wisdom Women! Amidst the flowers of this month I interviewed Mary McAuliffe and Imelda Therese (I.T.) Marquez. Sue Kenney graciously provided wonderful information about Gabriel Mason.

The Loretto Living Center at Loretto Motherhouse is home to interesting Loretto Community elders. The purpose of this series is to shine a spotlight on the lives of resident elders, women of wisdom. As the interviewer, I gave each person two questions ahead of time to think about:

1) What was your favorite mission ministry or job before you retired?
2) What is important to you at this time of your life?

Before she retired Gabriel Mason enjoyed teaching adult basic education for those hoping to complete high school or dreaming of going to college.

Gabriel smiles, however, when she recalls the people she met daily in her work of offering basic emergency assistance to those in need at a neighborhood center. She loved being with people like Josie, who relied on the center not only for assistance but for community, a place of friendship and safety.

“What is important to me now,” Gabriel muses, “is the view of nature from my large windows and the kind care I receive at Loretto.” Her longtime and current interest is in the cosmos and the awe she feels pondering the universe and its mysterious dimensions. She has traded her interest in the Hubble telescope for the new James Webb Space Telescope and its photographs of deep space. Her room now includes framed photos recently taken by the Webb telescope, and she ponders the articles in the magazine, Space.

Everyone in Denver knows I.T. Marquez, and her answer to the first question was, “If I go way back, my favorite would have been E-Town. Then also the Jewish school. I taught at the Jewish school for 15 years. I chose the Jewish school. And the other thing was the home-bound tutoring. Of course, it depended on the person who was homebound. Denver had a policy that if a student was sick, they were homebound; they could ask for a tutor. You went to the school for their assignments. It depended on their illness. In those years the hospital was Colorado General. The kids who had problems would go there. Some lived there. It was really a Godsend for those kids. It took their minds off their illnesses.”

In answer to the second question she replied, “I have time to do what I like to do. I would like to visit with people. By the time I have my therapy and walk, I don’t have time. My phone is out of order. It is important that I have access and time to do what I want to do.”

Mary McAuliffe was a teacher. “My favorite thing was teaching because my mother was a Master Teacher, and I learned from her. I was teacher of the year one time, selected by the parents and the teachers. I love teaching. I love the bright light that comes into their eyes when they get something, and when they can keep it. It is a life-changing light. I could never say I liked this one or that one. I loved them all. I did teach in a Catholic school and also in public education because I believed that every child deserves to have the best education available.

“What is important to me now is to be with my sisters in community and to continue to be of service in whatever role presents itself to me. Daily prayers and Mass with the Community. And life here at the Loretto Motherhouse is essential and life-giving. Now there is a wisdom among us that is palpable and life-giving.”


Joy Jensen SL

Joy is a vowed member, and she resides in the Motherhouse infirmary. Previously, Joy was a community organizer in St. Louis at St. Alphonsus Liguori “The Rock” Church, a historic Catholic church with a predominately African-American faith community. She also did some teaching at St. Louis University after receiving her doctorate. She enjoys reading American history and spy thrillers. Joy also enjoys knitting.
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Learn more or plan a visit to the Motherhouse!