by Emily Thenhaus
Emily is a Loretto Volunteer, serving at Loretto at the UN.
Emily and some Nerinx girls at Founder's Day
This past April marked the 200th anniversary of the Loretto Community. Thanks to the Loretto Volunteer Program and Loretto’s Nerinx Hall high school, I had the great opportunity of celebrating this jubilee at the place that first introduced me to the community, my alma mater, Nerinx. On April 18th I traveled home to St. Louis, Missouri to visit with students, faculty and staff at Nerinx and to speak at the school’s Founders’ Day celebration which commemorated Loretto’s jubilee. This experience, beyond making me feel very old, allowed me to reflect on what it has meant for me to be a Loretto woman, a Loretto student, alum, and volunteer.
Today I can definitively say that my years at Nerinx were pivotal in shaping the person that I am today and the things I have gotten involved in. My involvement in Nerinx’s LIFE club and my participation in the El Salvador service immersion trip, the classes I took like Open Questions with Ms. Lytton and Literature of Vietnam with Dr. Bartz, all have led me to pursue other powerful opportunities. Because of those eye-opening Nerinx moments, I studied in a service-learning program in El Salvador while in college, coordinated a coalition for political and activist clubs at DePaul, and finally, found my way to the Loretto Volunteer program to work with Sally Dunne at Loretto’s UN office. After graduating from Nerinx in 2007, the Loretto values of social justice, community, diversity, and empowerment have emboldened me to live a life dedicated to working for justice and acting for peace in my local community and the world at large.
However, what I also shared with the students at Founders’ Day was that my path is only one of many that Loretto women have chosen as a means of living out these values. This photo was taken of my lunch table at Nerinx on our last day of school senior year. I can proudly say that each and every one one of these women is living out the Loretto values in their own unique and powerful way, whether its Mary Davis, who is becoming a St. Louis teacher with Teach for America, Lucy Herleth, who is working with the Student Conservation Association to facilitate conservation and environmental education programs in a New York state park, or Shona Clarkson, who engages with the Latin American immigrant population in Lawrence, Kansas. Each one of these women is inspiring and is living out these values, because as Loretto students, alumnae, volunteers, or friends, we are all called to action.
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.