Founded on the Kentucky frontier in 1812 as Friends of Mary at the Foot of the Cross, the first Sisters of Loretto dedicated their lives to God as religious women and educated poor children. They derived strength from communal living and prayer. They later took the name "Sisters of Loretto at the Foot of the Cross."
Loretto's founders, Mary Rhodes, Ann Havern and Christina Stuart, began by teaching the children on the Kentucky frontier. When they decided to form a religious community, they turned to Father Charles Nerinckx, the Belgian missionary priest who served the area, for his advice and help in writing their rule and receiving approval for their new community.
Their small community and schools flourished and spread westward as did the country, teaching in parochial schools and in Loretto academies. The Sisters of Loretto came to Denver City at the request of then Father (later Bishop) Joseph P. Machebeuf. In the twentieth century, the Sisters followed the Church's call for missionaries, first to China in 1923 and, later, to Latin America in the 1960s.
Gaining new understanding of mission through Vatican II, Loretto today is shaped by a global society. Loretto Community members live throughout the United States, in Europe, Canada and South America. The Community extends its international reach through the newest ministry in Pakistan and by connections with "sister communities" in Ghana and Guatemala. Loretto recently partnered with the sister community in Ghana to build a school in Akokoamong. The Motherhouse is located in Nerinx, Kentucky.
Today the name Loretto Community incorporates the two types of membership in Loretto: sisters who make public profession of vows and co-members who affiliate with the spirit and mission of the community. In recent years, the community began a volunteer program for short-term service opportunities.
Like the early sisters who called themselves Friends of Mary, Loretto members today also stand below the cross striving to bring the healing spirit of God into our world and commit themselves to improving the conditions of those who suffer from injustice, oppression, and deprivation of dignity.
In 2012 Loretto is celebrating 200 years. Truly a year of jubilee!
To find out more about Loretto, visit the Loretto Community website.
We work for justice and act for peace because the Gospel urges us.