Tobin House: Keeping an Open Door
By Claudia CalzettaEverything happened so fast at the annual mid-year retreat for the St. Louis Volunteers. We were enjoying a beautiful sunny day at Rockhaven retreat center. It was a relaxing weekend, each of us taking a breath and enjoying the wonderful opportunity to focus on self-care. Nothing heavy, just some good, life-giving time together.
An important conversation emerged as the day progressed, and we discussed the bittersweet moments that we all were feeling. Leaving the Lockwood House and moving to a new home in Maplewood, Mo., had its challenge not only for the Volunteer Program but also for the entire Loretto Community in St. Louis. We saw it with the sisters at the Loretto Center and were present for goodbyes to familiar settings.
As we shared, the conversation shifted. We discussed something very practical. What would we call our new Maplewood home? That’s when it got exciting. As we continued our communal brainstorming, one thing became clear: The house needed a name. Not only just any name, but also one that encapsulated the spirit of Loretto. We needed a name that would identify us as a welcoming place, one that could return us to our past but also guide us to our future, one that would proudly stand with us as we continue to grow and evolve.
The Washington, D.C., house is named after Junia, a female apostle whose identity was replaced by that of the male apostle “Junias” in later translations of the Bible. We wanted a name for the new St. Louis house that stood as boldly and proudly as Junia’s in D.C. We played around with the sounds of our respective role models, mentors and guides: Dorothy Day House, Kateri Tekakwitha House, another Havern, Rhodes or Stuart House? None seemed quite right. After just a few minutes, Caitlyn Hagarty, our volunteer at Family Care Health Center in the Tower Grove neighborhood, said, “What about the name of that sister, you know, that president of Loretto, the one who went to Vatican II? Luke? Mary Luke something?”
There it was. Words of wisdom, unfiltered and sincere. We would call it Tobin House.
Today, as I look back on that February retreat day, this thought keeps crossing my mind: We educators never know what students learn or remember. A discussion about Loretto history during the program’s August orientation at the Motherhouse did make a difference in Caitlyn’s life. She remembered it and connected it at the very right moment. Loretto’s values and mission are alive with these passionate young adults.
Mary Luke Tobin’s prescient statement, “Hope is an open door,” not only encourages our hopes for the Volunteer Program, but energizes us to continue to dream of what will be in the future. The Volunteers who pass through Tobin House always will have the example of a woman who dreamed, hoped and lived the Gospel message, a mentor and a guide by their side. These are bright, energetic and genuine individuals who look to dedicate their lives to social justice and spiritual growth. They are Loretto today and Loretto of the future. Our hope is that all these present and future Volunteers will feel the responsibility and the drive to carry forth Mary Luke’s vision for Loretto, for the Church and for the world. She once said, “Each new door opens its own epiphany.” We look forward to many open doors as we settle into our new home in St. Louis. Welcome everyone to Tobin House.