Sister Loretta Costa 1923-2018

Please pray for the repose of the soul of Sister Loretta Costa, CSJ who passed away on June 10 at St. Clare Hospital in Fenton, Missouri. She was 94 years of age.

Sister Loretta, baptized Mary Elizabeth, was born on September 28, 1923, in Athens, Georgia, to parents Lawrence Charles and Loretta C. (Callahan) Costa. She entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet on September 18, 1939, and was received into the novitiate on March 19, 1940. She received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1961 and a master’s degree in sociology from St. Louis University in 1970.

Sister Loretta served much of her 75 years in both educational and healthcare ministries—many of those years in her beloved home of Georgia as well.    

For 36 years, from the 1940s to 60s, she taught at a great many schools in Georgia including: Sacred Heart Grade School in Savannah (1942-49), St. Francis Xavier Grade School in Brunswick (1949-50, 1956-57, 1960-66)), St. John the Evangelist Grade School in Valdosta (1950-54), at Sacred Heart Grade School in Milledgeville (1954-56), St. Anthony Grade School in Atlanta (1957-60) and St. Mary on the Hill Grade School in Augusta (1966-67). She served in Champaign, Illinois, at Holy Cross Grade School as principal and teacher until 1975, then in St. Louis as the principal at St. Luke the Evangelist for two years.

From 1977 to 1984, Sister Loretta served in the leadership of the Sisters of St. Joseph as regional superior and provincial councilor.

Following her time in leadership, Sister Loretta returned to Georgia to serve in healthcare ministries including: dietitian at the Village of St. Joseph in Atlanta (1984-87) and geriatric care administrator at St. Thomas Persona Care Home in East Point (1988-89) and St. Teresa Manor in Riverdale (1989-90). 

In the 1990s, Sister Loretta served in administration, first as the development coordinator for the Atlanta Archdiocesan School Office, then as regional development director for the Southern Regional Development.

She also volunteered as a reader for the blind at Georgia Radio Reading Service, Inc. located in Atlanta. 

She retired in 2006. In 2013, she moved from Georgia to St. Louis to carry out her ministry of prayer and witness, residing at Nazareth Living Center until 2017 and then Laclede Groves Senior Living.

Sister Loretta shared a special friendship with the great American storyteller, Flannery O’Connor. She enjoyed telling her story of the experience and being a part of keeping O’Connor’s literary heritage alive. Read about their friendship in the article, “A Friendship Between the Lines,” featured in our 2012 Fall/Winter Connections magazine.

A Memorial Mass will be held on Monday, June 18 at 10:30 a.m. at the Nazareth Living Center Chapel. 2 Nazareth Lane, St. Louis, MO 63129.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, St. Louis Province, 6400 Minnesota Ave., St. Louis, MO 63111-2899. Donate online.