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We Repent

Posted on November 5, 2020, by Loretto Community

Close-up of the Loretto Slave Memorial at the Motherhouse in Kentucky. The memorial was established April 25, 2000 to honor enslaved persons at Loretto locations, including the Motherhouse. The names listed here appear on the memorial (see photo below.)
Memorial by Roberta Hudlow SL; photo: Donna Mattingly SL

Ann Rhodes, the youngest of the first six Sisters of Loretto, arrived at the log cabin that was to be home and school with Tom, an enslaved man, her property. It was 1812.

We know that. We know that Tom was sold to purchase the first log cabin and the property surrounding it for the sisters near what is now Loretto Motherhouse. We know that other women coming to Loretto brought enslaved persons. We know there were unmarked graves of enslaved persons either at that property or at the Motherhouse. We know that some women who were enslaved became Oblates, making annual vows.

We have searched for the names of these men and women, and for their survivors. Many Loretto records, names of those who lived at Loretto, correspondence, bills and deeds, were destroyed in a fire in 1858.

In 2000, Loretto dedicated a slave memorial on our Our Lady of Sorrows Cemetery grounds. The sculptor was Roberta Hudlow SL. The names engraved are the fruit of research by Joan Campbell SL. Beneath the names the plaque reads, “Pray for us.”

Slavery is Loretto’s original sin. Slavery is the original sin of the United States. We mourn for those we enslaved and for their children and children’s children, all of whose lives have been damaged and diminished by our participation in racism.

We repent.

We repent by prayer and fasting and committing ourselves to serve others. Slowly we’ve come to understand the meaning of systemic racism and ways we benefit from racism. Individually, and as the Loretto Community, we strive to change ourselves, Loretto and our broader world.

Say their names


Loretto Convents, Kentucky
Sister Winifred Abell
Sister Lucy – Elizabeth Yates
Sister Felicitas – Teresa Heifner
Sister Catherine – Julia A. Pierce
Sister Natilia – Anne Kohoe
Sister Felicitas – Mary Smith
Sister Mercilina – Anne Moore
Sister Euphrasia – Ann Bowling

St. Mary’s Convent, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Sister _____ Wallace

St. Vincent’s Academy, Cape Girardeau, Missouri
Sister Gabreele
Sister Seraphine
Sister Genevieve
Sister Regina
Sister Stanislaus


Loretto Convents, Kentucky
Anna and George
Sarah and Tom
The Drury Family of ten slaves
Jerome Boone’s Family: parents and twelve children
Jane with her increase
The Clements Family of slaves: Nancy, her children Jos., Lewis, George, John, Ignatius, and all her increase
Moses, Lewis, Charles, George, Gusty, Jane, Jacob, Elizabeth, Mary Thompson and her child Elias
Aunt Gracy
Leo Clements-Nerinckx, son of Black George, his wife, Matilda, and five children
Aunt Belle
The slaves inherited in 1838 by Sister Mary Laurentia Buckman

Bethlehem Convent, Perryville, Missouri
Seven slaves including three children

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, St. Genevieve, Missouri
Mary Genevieve
Mary Jane

St. Vincent’s Academy, Cape Girardeau, Missouri
Six female children: O. and H. Paul, M. and C. Hunter, E. and M.A. Linen

And all those whose names have been forgotten.

Monument to enslaved persons at Loretto Motherhouse
Photo: Donna Mattingly SL

Loretto Community

We are Sisters and Co-members who strive to bring the healing spirit of God into our world.
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Loretto welcomes you

Learn more or plan a visit to the Motherhouse!