by Anne Lacher, Loretto Volunteer
Anne is currently serving as a Loretto Volunteer at WATER, the Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual.
A 1, a 3, a 7, an 8, and a 9 walked into a house. No, this is not a joke. The house is Junia, and we, the Loretto Volunteers, are as different as night and day and everything in between. After an exhausting week spent baring our souls and sharing our pasts, we set off across the knobby hills of Kentucky and through the Appalachian Mountains, bound for our new home in Mount Rainier, Maryland. The Motherhouse had armed us with our Enneagram numbers, nailing down our personality types, communication styles, and behavioral patterns. No two women were the same; five volunteers, five personality types, one house. A recipe for disaster?
Hello. My name is Anne, and I am a 9. A happy native of Minnesota, I discovered my true passions while attending an unexpectedly liberal, Catholic college. The College of St. Benedict | St. John’s University played a huge role in forming the person that I am now. It is a fantastical place where nuns smuggle poitín, Deacon Professors join the students for happy hour, and monks give communion to LGBTIQ advocates immediately after the Archbishop refuses to do so. I had never experienced such liberal religion, and I certainly had never held any interest in scholarly theology or gender studies. After a curriculum overflowing with concepts of peace, environmental stewardship, and gender, race, and religious equality, I felt newly enlightened and a little at odds with my parents’ conservative Christian interests. As graduation loomed ominously closer, I worried that I would never find another community like St. Ben’s/St. John’s, full of strong liberal activists who are one part crazy and two parts fun, who are concerned about underrepresented issues of justice, peace, and equality. Enter Loretto: “extending the boundaries of learning and justice, of human dignity and peace.”
Far from being difficult and weighty, my decision to spend a year of service half-way across the country was ridiculously easy to make. By the time I reached the end of the Loretto Volunteer Program’s blurb in one volunteer catalogue or another, I knew it was the program for which I’d been searching. In the entire catalogue, Loretto was one of the only programs to list LGBT and women’s issues as main concerns in their mission statement and to declare their acceptance into the program of people of all “races, classes, abilities, sexual orientations, gender identities, and faiths.” I applied and was accepted, simple as that. I had no qualms about living in close, shared space with strangers or about moving to an unfamiliar big city. Having recently spent four months living in a tiny London flat with 10 strangers—who became first my friends and then my family—I felt well prepared for new people and new places.
Although it seemed intense, our time at the Motherhouse was merely an introduction to the program and to each other. Our arrival at Junia House gave us so much more. Suddenly, we were living together, playing together, cooking and cleaning and sharing meals together, dancing, exploring, and venting together. Far from a disaster, a 1, 3, 7, 8, and 9 sharing quarters was a recipe for fun! We were very lucky; our community life practically created itself. Sometimes it’s messy and chaotic, but things have had a way of working themselves out. Maybe it won’t always be this easy, but we have each shown ourselves to be open-minded and open-hearted individuals. We’re quite the array of personalities, but, more importantly, we are five passionate, determined, and unified women working for justice and acting for peace.
In Their Own Words
We invite you to get to know Loretto Volunteers and the program here. Volunteers introduce themselves and reflect on their experiences.