The Importance of Education: Loretto Ph.Ds.* Past and Present
I Am the Way, the constitutions of the Sisters of Loretto, has always had as the spirit of the “Institute” the mandate to find joy and excellence in the mission of education. Listen to the words written about our early members: “They recognized the need of children in the area for education and religious formation. As they responded to the need, they found joy and meaning in their work and life together.” (#2)
For 210 years the charism of Loretto has been the same: excellence in education. This charism has been carried out in hundreds of schools, catechetical centers, colleges and universities in the United States and countries around the world, all achieved by hundreds of members pursuing their dreams of making a difference in the world. This charism has stayed the same from Loretto’s inception in 1812, to its westward expansion beginning in 1852 and to its present global expansion in Pakistan.
In “A Century of Change,” Loretto Sister Patricia Jean Manion, Ph.D., wrote, “Former President, Mary Luke Tobin, was an eager learner who always found ways to share her new insights with those around her. She sent a number of members to educational institutions such as Catholic University, Marquette and Loyola in the U.S. and Lumen Vitae, Regina Mundi in Rome and other European institutions where current theological thought prevailed. Those Sisters came home with Ph.D.s and a dedication to bring new understanding and expertise in their teaching, their artistic endeavors and writings.”
In 1982, Helen Sanders SL wrote in “More Than A Renewal,” “We know we have been fortunate in having education as our apostolate. From pioneer times to the present, the congregation has been able to put trained intelligence and professional competence at the service of current and changing needs.”
Both of these past Loretto presidents and others who followed them embraced education in all its forms for Loretto members. Some members taught first grade, others were Ph.D.s in universities. All were valued and missioned in their various, diverse ways to fulfill the mission of the Gospel.
Our Loretto members with doctorates recently were asked to answer the following questions: What is your doctorate in and how does your doctorate help you carry forward Loretto’s mission? Why was it important for you to get your Ph.D.? What does/did it allow you to do? Follow along with us on Loretto’s Facebook page this week to read stories about the women who carried on the spirit of our early members: education in all its diverse forms. Loretto priest-founder Father Charles Nerinckx’s prayer, “The Morning Manna,” invited them to pray daily, and indeed they did: “O Dear Sisters and Scholars!”
*Please note: This post primarily focuses on Ph.D.s or “academic doctorates”; some within Loretto also have degrees in medicine (MD); law (JD); in divinity, (DDiv); and honorary doctorates.