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Loretto is a place to reconnect

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By Stephen Lega

The Loretto Motherhouse will be featured on Kentucky Life on KET1 May 16 at 8 p.m. and May 17 at 4:30 p.m. and on KET2 at 7 p.m. on May 17. The description in my email reads, “The program visits the sisters of Loretto’s Motherhouse, a community of active and retired nuns, who farm, host retreats, maintain an art gallery and conduct tours detailing the history of one of the oldest convents west of the Appalachians.”

When I interviewed for my current job in the fall of 2005, the Motherhouse was one of the few things in Marion County I’d heard of before I arrived here. I don’t remember if I was taken to Loretto during the driving tour that was part of my interview that day, but I’ve been back several times since.

I do know that it was one of the first places I visited when I had some free time to roam the county. I also know I took my parents there when they came to visit me in my new home.

I don’t consider myself a religious person - at least I haven’t for several years. Nevertheless, I find when I need to get away from things for a few hours or when I need to clear my head, I’ve made several trips to Nerinx (although I’m never sure if I’m spelling that right).

When I want to try out a new camera or lens, the Motherhouse is one of the first places I go. The grounds are scenic for the nature and the art that is easily available and accessible. I’ve found much to be inspired by during my trips alone to the Motherhouse.

I’ve also been fortunate enough to meet members of the Loretto community, most of whom are nuns, but some of whom are co-members (who may be men or women, Catholic or not). I won’t soon forget the trip to Ft. Benning, Ga., I made with a van full of Loretto community members in 2007.

My encounters with the Loretto community - which includes everyone from Sr. Kay Carlew (the chairwoman of the Marion County Board of Education) to Susan Classen (a co-member who runs one of the retreat centers at the Motherhouse, and whose name I usually misspell) - have left me with the impression that the members of this community are, for lack of a better term, grounded.

There’s no question that the community is spiritual, and its members have a genuine concern for others.

But, I still find myself coming back to the word grounded.

Maybe connected is a better word. The community is connected in many ways: to one another, to their land, to the broader community and to the world at large.

I remember attending a political forum for local magisterial and county judge/executive candidates in 2006. I don’t remember many of the details of that event, but I do recall thinking the audience at that forum seemed more aware and more attentive than at any forum I’d been to before or since.

I don’t know what the KET program will show, but I do know the Loretto Motherhouse is one of the places that has helped me when I needed to reflect on something or to reconnect with what’s important in my life.

Stephen Lega is news editor of The Lebanon Enterprise.