sister loretta beyer

July 31, 1934 – January 14, 2015

Generous, enthusiastic, prayerful

Loretta Martha Beyer was born in Chicago, Illinois, July 31, 1934, to Emil and Helen (Miller) Beyer. Two sisters and two brothers preceded her. 

Loretta described her family as being happy but poor. One childhood memory, during the Second World War, was that her siblings had the best fun right at home dancing to the popular songs on their 78 records. At times sailors from Chicago’s Navy Pier could be found dancing a polka or the jitterbug in their kitchen at the invitation of her older sisters. 

Loretta attended Catholic schools. In high school, the sisters would send for her to tell her that tuition or book bills were outstanding. Rather than tell her parents, Loretta decided to work at the dime store to help pay those bills herself.

 Her dad loved music and dancing. He organized a group of men to put on minstrel shows in various parishes as fundraisers. One of the men involved in these shows was Mr. Seiler, S. Mary Ann Seiler’s dad. When Loretta decided she was interested in religious life, her dad asked friends in his minstrel group what they knew about religious communities. It was through their fathers that Loretta met Mary Ann who introduced her to S. Agnes James Leonas at Nativity and the Sisters of St. Joseph. 

Following high school, Loretta worked as a secretary. Eight months later she entered the Sisters of St. Joseph, February 11, 1953. She received the habit and the name S. Lawrence Marie August 15, 1953. Her bachelor's degree in education was from Fontbonne College in 1966. 

S. Loretta taught in elementary schools from 1955 until 1971: Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Kansas City, Missouri (1955); St. Paul, Negaunee, Michigan (1957); All Saints, University City, Missouri (1958); St. Patrick, Sedalia, Missouri (1960); St. Patrick, Denver, Colorado (1962-1965, returning in 1969); Nativity of Our Lord Grade School, Chicago (1967); and St. Agnes Grade School, St. Louis (1968). Often, S. Loretta directed school choirs, which she loved.

S. Loretta spent 14 years in secretarial services: Bishop Healy Grade School, St. Louis (1971), our Provincialate Offices (1972); Holy Cross, Los Angeles and St. Benedict Center for the Deaf, San Francisco (1978); and at St. Pius Parish, Redwood, California (1979). 

In 1985, S. Loretta began five years of family care in Redwood. Two years later, she was the religious education director at St. Ann, Lexington, Nebraska. She briefly returned to teaching for one year at Sacred Heart School, Nogales, Arizona (1993), then was a participant at Derham Community in St. Paul, Minnesota for a year. 

S. Loretta served as receptionist at Notre Dame de la Baie Academy in Green Bay, Wisconsin (1995-2000). Carolyn Brown, a teacher at Notre Dame Academy (NDA) with S. Loretta, shares this memory:

When I came to NDA 19 years ago, S. Loretta was the first face I encountered. She was spunky, friendly, and fun to be around. I appreciated her wit, her devotion, and her compassion. One of our first Mr. NDA contestants wanted to do some kind of dance move in his act, and I told him S. Loretta would have to see it and approve it—and she did! He dedicated his talent act ‘to all the nuns in the audience.’ 

She was a pastoral minister at Saints Peter and Paul in Green Bay until her retirement in 2006. Realizing her memory was failing, she asked to move to Nazareth Living Center in 2008. 

S. Roberta Houlihan remembers S. Loretta from the 1960s in Denver:

My memories of Loretta see her as a very enthusiastic teacher, young and full of fun, and having a deep devotion to prayer as well….50 years later, being with her these last 2 ½ years at Nazareth Living Center, I’ve still seen her dedication to prayer, and when she enjoyed good health, the spark of enthusiasm was still there.

 S. Helen Oates

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