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Spotlight on Loretto wisdom women

Posted on October 1, 2023, by Loretto Community

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

‘Tis the end of summer and the leaves are rummaging through their closets for their autumn colors. ‘Tis also the time to spotlight three more beautiful wisdom women. In this article we will shine the spotlight on Patty Brush, Rosemary Chinnici and Mary Ann Cunningham.

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, Joy 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?

Patty Brush

Liz Croom shared her memories of Patty Brush. “Patty had been in touch with Denise Ann and

Denise Ann suggested she look into co-membership. As her mentor we worked on IATW and attended the Kansas City Community Group. Patty loved sewing and entertaining. When she came to the Motherhouse for a workshop, she told her daughters that she wanted to go to the Motherhouse for the good health care. She finally convinced her daughters that that was the place to go. Her daughters packed two cars, brought her things and she moved in. They started visiting her every two to three months and became acquainted with the staff. Patty and her family love the Motherhouse trees and courtyard. The most important thing to Patty is her daughters coming here and getting to know the Community.”

Patty was a past health staff contact person for the Kansas City area. We are grateful for her service.

Rosemary Chinnici

Eleanor Craig shared material about Rosemary Chinnici from Archives. Rosemary wrote:

“My first experience with the Sisters of Loretto was in grade school at Immaculate Conception School, Monrovia, Calif. I joined the Community in Sept. 1960 and had to leave in Feb. 1961 for reasons of health. After leaving, I enrolled at Loretto Heights, graduating in 1964. I kept in close contact with many of the teachers and students, particularly Gabriel Mason. I decided to reenter the Community in 1971. In 1972 I moved to the Motherhouse for my canonical year, which finished in Sept. 1973. After my novitiate year I stayed on for one more year working in Springfield, Ky., as the Title IX officer entrusted with supervising the progress of integration in the local high school. I had been hired by the Black community for this job and it was understood that after one year we would have a person from the local Black community who would be able to do this work. In 1975 I came to the Graduate Theological Union for my graduate studies. …”

“The most impressive experience I have had as a Loretto Community member while still here in California was participating in Francine Lum’s death and new life. My experiences at the Motherhouse with the sisters who are dying have taught me

a great deal about the faith and life that is represented in each person. Another way I participate in the life of the Community is through the workshops and consulting work I have done in various centers around the country.”

Mary Ann Cunningham

Mary Ann Cunningham answered the first question easily: “Teaching, of course. I loved teaching, the kids. A lot of the sisters who were living with me were delightful. I love the girls from Pakistan, who lived with us for a very short time. I enjoyed being the editor of “Courage [publication of the Loretto Feminist Network].” I retired from teaching, and I got into “Courage.” I had taught all over the place: Kansas City, St. Louis. One year I taught in Wyoming. I loved the kids wherever I was. I still get cards from some of them.

When she answered the second question, she said, “I’m glad to be here. It was my niece Cathy (Smith) who got me here. She visited me after Mary Ann Coyle died. Cathy and my sister said it was a good time to visit the Motherhouse. I never thought it would be forever. We have wonderful care here. They are funny, kind. I enjoy the birds. They start thumping sometimes while I am sleeping. I enjoy them. There are different kinds.”


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