A person’s passion can drive a successful life, and for Sister Loretta Gegen, that passion was education.
Passion for Learning
She studied, taught, wrote, organized and showed the way in every aspect of her life. Whether it was in the classroom, in the office of Superintendent of Schools, in helping to set up the Adorers’ Spirituality Center in Rome, in directing others in the teaching profession, in writing and publishing books, Sister Loretta Gegen devoted her life to a passion to learn and share her learning with others.
Sister Loretta Gegen, originally Norma, was born in Wichita, Kansas, to Fred and Rose Gegen, the second of five children. Following her high school education at Sacred Heart Academy, she joined the community of Adorers who operated the Academy. After her profession of vows, she began her life’s work as a teacher in Kansas schools, including Sacred Heart Academy and Kansas Newman College, while pursuing her own education, with two bachelor’s degrees, two master’s degrees, and a doctorate.
Leadership and Ministry
Even when elected to be provincial councilor, she directed sisters in their ministry, especially in education. She served in two dioceses outside of Wichita—in Oklahoma City for 20 years as director of education, and in Dodge City, Kansas, as vice-chancellor, responsible for leadership training and strategic planning. In both dioceses, she initiated the Pastoral Ministry Program affiliated with Newman University.
Elected to the General Council in 1975, under the leadership of Sister Mary Catherine Girrens, Loretta was engaged in the ongoing changes following the Second Vatican Council, and translated from Italian to English the letters of Adorers’ founder, Maria de Mattias, and other historic documents of the community.
In her free time, Sister Loretta Gegen wrote and published extensively, beginning with her doctoral dissertation, Amazonia, relating the story of the mission of the Adorers in Brazil, and following with books related to the history and spirituality of the Adorers. She drew the connection between Maria’s call to her Sisters to a commitment to radical gospel living and Christ’s call in the Beatitudes in her work The Beatitudes, Saint Maria de Mattias, and the Adorers.
When asked how she managed to accomplish so much, Loretta replied, “By myself I couldn’t have. I have always had a wonderful staff, the support and encouragement of my Sisters, and the grace of God.”