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Spotlight on Loretto wisdom women

Posted on February 1, 2023, by Joy Jensen SL

Editor’s note: In the coming months interviews of Loretto Community elders will be featured in Interchange. We are grateful to the sisters and to Joy Jensen for sharing wonderful snapshots of our beloved Community members.

The Loretto Living Center at Loretto Motherhouse, the new name for the Infirmary, is home to interesting Loretto Community elders. The purpose of this series of articles is to shine a spotlight on the lives of these resident elders, these 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 now at this time of your life?

Each could answer in any way she wanted. I chose the persons in alphabetical order, starting from the back of the alphabet, and participation was voluntary.

Sylvia Sedillo

Photo of Sylvia Sedillo by Joy Jensen

In describing her favorite mission, Sylvia elaborated, “I suppose if I have to choose, it was when I was the founding director of the Women’s Spiritual Center in Santa Fe, NM. It was interfaith and multicultural. We had retreats daily, weekly or monthly. We had women speakers, some very notable. Mary Luke Tobin gave a weekend retreat. Joan Chittister OSB was a speaker and Theresa Kane RSM gave a retreat. Gloria Davis SBS, a Native American and a sister of Katherine Drexel’s community, led retreats and did Native American rituals.

“Another favorite ministry was being on the coordinating team of Los Hermanas National Organization of Hispanic Women, lay and religious. My very favorite was being the caregiver for my sister Janis for 13 years.”

Marie Lourde Steckler

Photo of Marie Lourde Steckler by Joy Jensen

In answering the first question about a favorite mission, Marie Lourde, longtime nurse, answered, “The Infirmary residents were my only mission. I am still on my first mission. And “What is important to me at this time of my life is where I am in the Motherhouse Infirmary, which I call the Gateway to Heaven. I get to know God with my heart rather than with my head. One thing that helps is contemplative prayer. I first heard of it from Thomas Keating OCSO. I started the contemplative prayer group here in the Infirmary for those who resonate with this type of prayer.” my family is also very interested in the Infirmary. Some of the sisters write to my youngest brother, and they are loved by my family. Mother Agnes Marie said to me one summer, ‘I want you to find some other place to be. You are always with old people.’ So I did. I contacted Frontier Nursing Services in eastern Kentucky. I was there for the summer.”

When asked the second question, Marie Lourde replied that “family and community are important to me now. When I was a novice, I told Mary Luke that I preferred not to teach, and I would like to spend my life helping others. And now I am one of the elderly sisters.”

Kathleen Tighe

Photo of Kathleen Tighe by Joy Jensen

Her answer to the first question was global, “I chose my mission in Micronesia. Marian McAvoy was president, and she decided that instead of sending people off to graduate school, it would be more helpful if people were sent to developing countries. Someone called me and said I should go to Micronesia with the Maryknoll Sisters. I was interested in Micronesia because when I was principal in Kansas City, the Mercedarian Sisters had a home there for people who needed help physically. The superior brought girls over from Micronesia to work in the home. She did not let them go to school. She made them work like slaves. The next superior called me; she knew that the girls had no education and that was wrong. She asked me if they could come over to Loretto Academy. So when I had the chance to go to Micronesia myself, I was very excited about it. I learned a lot about the culture of the island people, which is very different from ours. I lived with the Maryknoll sisters who had a grade school and a high school. The island was only ten miles long and ten miles wide. My challenge was to teach religion without a book to students who would not say one word. You can see why I chose Micronesia.”

For her second answer she offered, “I think right now my experience in the Infirmary is of wonderful, caring staff, and all the sisters here at the Motherhouse are caring.”


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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Loretto welcomes you

Learn more or plan a visit to the Motherhouse!