200th jubilee Mass for Loretto Sisters draws 800 people
By Julie Filby
Photo by James Baca/DCR
A celebratory atmosphere prevailed June 23 when nearly 800 people gathered at Queen of Peace Church in Aurora to recognize the Sisters of Loretto on their 200-year jubilee.
“So many sisters, priests, brothers, bishops,” said Loretto Sister Cathy Mueller, president, when welcoming the crowd.
“And all of us are here because our lives have intersected with Loretto.”
The order was originally established as the Little Society of Friends of Mary at the Foot of the Cross in 1812 on the Kentucky frontier.
“Our 200 years have been possible because of you; because of our partnership with you,” said Sister Mueller. “We’re grateful you’re here this afternoon to join us in this celebration.”
The principal celebrant was Bishop Richard Hanifen, bishop emeritus of Colorado Springs, with concelebrants Bishop James Conley, apostolic administrator of Denver; Pueblo Bishop Fernando Isern; Father Martin Lally, pastor of Queen of Peace and a Loretto co-member; as well as 20 area priests.
“Wow!” exclaimed Father Lally to begin his homily. “This is an impressive crowd.”
He encouraged the faithful to “celebrate 200 years of the history of the Sisters of Loretto; 200 years of religious life lived as an expression of a faithful response, first to God, and at the same time to the Church.”
He thanked the sisters from Colorado and Wyoming, sitting in the front pews, for their commitment “to the Gospel and their faithful service to the Church.” They were honored with a standing ovation and several rounds of applause during the Mass.
“It really feels good to be appreciated,” said Sister Denise Ann Clifford, director of development, and a teacher and principal for 35 years.
LORETTO SISTERS' SERVICE
Since arriving in the Colorado territory in 1864, Loretto has founded 27 schools in the state including St. Mary’s Academy that is still operated by the community today.
Thousands of students have been educated by Loretto Sisters including Paul Mott, who served in education himself for years before retiring as principal of St. Thomas More School in Centennial last year. He attended the Mass with his wife, Dodie. Both were students of Loretto Sisters in Denver and Colorado Springs’ schools: Paul for six years and Dodie for 16.
Aug. 25: Golf tournament at Arrowhead Golf Course, Littleton
1:30 p.m. Sept. 16: Opening for “Loretto in Colorado” historical photo exhibit, Denver Public Library, 10 W. 14th Ave. Parkway, with series of talks through Dec. 31
6 p.m. Oct. 13: Jubilee Gala, Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center, 650 15th St., Denver
“We’re here to support them,” he said. “They were good to us. They were real influential in everything I did.”
In addition to a long tradition of teaching, Sister Mueller told the Denver Catholic Register the sisters have continued to develop in other areas as well.
“We don’t see sisters in the same roles that we have before,” she said. “When we came and opened schools, those were the groups that really needed us … the immigrants … people trying to make their way.”
While there is still a need in schools, she said, the sisters also work in service to the poor, special religious education, senior care, legal services, interfaith alliances, pastoral ministry, prison ministry, hospice, spiritual direction and health care. Prior to Mass, Loretto sisters and co-members carried several items to the altar representing many of those ministries.
“People need that witness to the Gospel,” Sister Mueller said. “They need compassion.”
The Mass was followed with a reception. The jubilee year will continue with events through year-end. For details, visit www.lorettocommunity.org or call 303-783-0450, ext. 1724.