Years Melt Away at Jubilee Reunion of Reception Class of 1965
By Barbara Roche
The Loretto Reception Class of 1965 gathered at the Motherhouse May 26-28 to celebrate our golden jubilee. Originally, there were 55 of us; we were able to locate 40 members of the class and 25 came to this very special reunion.
We shared an important and meaningful time together as young women — one year, two years or more — and some of us hadn’t seen each other for 49 or 50 years. What would it be like when we saw one another again? We were all excited … and, perhaps, more than a little nervous. Amazingly, the years melted away and, within the first few hours, we were talking easily about where our lives had taken us and who we had become since that formative time in Loretto.
“The Gift of Age,” a song by Ann Reed, framed several of our conversations. Many of the lyrics resonated with us — “Are you anywhere you thought you’d be? Has it changed at all what you believe?”
Our paths have taken us so many different places … some married, some single, some vowed members of Loretto, some co-members, some with children and grandchildren, some living in their hometowns and others having ventured far away. We have worked in education, social work, business, pastoral ministry, nursing, law, massage therapy and human resources.
But a common theme, much repeated, was that all felt an ongoing connection to Loretto. Even those who experienced difficult times — while part of the Community or when leaving — said that they knew their time with Loretto had made and continued to make a significant difference in their lives. When asked in a survey before the gathering to “tell us about an aspect of your Loretto experience that has become a part of your life today,” responses included many like these:
• A relationship with God, a deep enjoyment of the company of women, an appreciation of all the beauty and goodness in nature.
• The Loretto experience has led me through self-exploration toward recognizing my true self and guided the way I make choices.
• Not a day goes by that I don’t use lessons learned while at Loretto.
• My work with women is a direct result of being a part of Loretto. The Sisters of Loretto showed me what strong, smart women could accomplish in this world.
• That year at Loretto was a great gift and grace in my life. I recently wrote, “The experience of that year has anchored me in my search for the Divine all these decades since.”
• My two years in Loretto … gave me a strong psychological background to weather the winds of life. I have taken the idea from Loretto that “joy in us is the proof of the existence of God.”
• Loretto’s approach of recognizing the importance of each child definitely influenced my own teaching.
• Loretto shapes just about everything I do.
Our gathering wasn’t all talk. We learned about sustainable farming at Loretto and toured the many places that have changed at the Motherhouse since our time there such as the Heritage Center, the apartments in the old laundry and Jeanne Dueber’s studio at Rhodes Hall. The Community’s weekly Wednesday afternoon Mass was a special celebration of our jubilee; Wednesday night featured a barbecue/picnic, a chance to sing our old favorite songs and share stories. On Thursday morning, we had a special prayer gathering in the cemetery to remember our classmate, Ann Manganaro, and other Loretto members special to us who have died.
The two days ended with hugs all around, pledges to stay in touch and talk of gathering again. As the song says, “I trace the path, grateful to have walked along this road with you. And I realize as I turn a page, this looking back is a gift of age.”