On Monday, Feb. 20, Newman University students, faculty, and staff received an e-mail with the news that Loretta Gegen, ASC, had passed away at the age of 91.
Executive Assistant to the President Tracy McGarey encouraged those in the Newman community to, “Please ask God’s blessings on Sister Loretta, her family, and her Sisters, the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, during this sorrowful time.”
Through the course of her career, Gegen was actively engaged at Newman in many ways. She served as academic dean, taught in the Education Department, was key in starting the Pastoral Ministry program in Oklahoma City, Okla., and served three terms on the Board of Trustees (then named the Board of Directors). She spent 72 years of her life as a professed Adorer of the Blood of Christ.
Therese Wetta, ASC, described Gegen as being a superb strategic planner, spiritual author, and a visionary to those around her.
Director of Mission Effectiveness Charlotte Rohrbach, ASC, Ph.D. said, “Sister Loretta was multi-gifted, and she used many of these gifts for the larger community — no matter where she was missioned. She had a deep spirituality and used many means to share it with others with whom she ministered.
“As Superintendent of Catholic Education in the Diocese of Oklahoma City and Tulsa (prior to the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City) and the Diocese of Dodge City, Gegen always looked for ways to academically prepare educators to improve their performance as administrators and teachers,” Rohrbach said. This included her efforts for Pastoral Ministry programs related to Newman University.
Rohrbach added, “She was goal-driven, an outstanding educator, and shared a deep love for our congregation. She will be missed.”
Obituary for Sister Loretta Gegen
Sister Loretta Gegen was born in Wichita, Kan., on Oct. 27, 1925, to Frederick and Rose (Freund) Gegen, the second child in their family of three girls and two boys. She was baptized Norma at St. Patrick Church. She knew God blessed her continually through her family.
Loretta entered the Wichita ASC congregation on Sept. 5, 1943. She professed her first vows July 1, 1945, and her permanent vows July 1, 1950. When she visited each of the 22 countries on six continents where ASC sisters lived, she felt at home with the sisters.
She graduated from St. John’s Academy in 1943. In 1954, she earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education at Mount St. Scholastica College in Atchison, Kan. She taught upper elementary grade students in three Kansas towns from 1945 to 1954. She then returned to the academy, renamed Sacred Heart Academy, to teach English.
Loretta’s education and ministries continued to intertwine. She later earned a bachelor’s degree in English at Wichita State University; a master’s degree in psychology and counseling and a master’s of education in secondary education, both at Saint Louis University; a master’s degree in religious studies at Gonzaga University; and a doctorate in administration from Saint Louis University.
She was an instructor, principal, college academic dean, supervisor of diocesan schools, director of education, director of teacher education, director of leadership formation and strategic planning, and a member of the ASC Wichita provincial administration and the international ASC leadership administration. She helped plan and organize the International Center of Spirituality in Rome, and was part of the CIS teaching team for two years.
Cultures and languages fascinated Loretta. She was fluent in Italian and could read German, French, Spanish and Portuguese. After spending a year in the villages along the Amazon River in South America observing living conditions and researching the 12-year impact of ASC missionaries, she wrote “Amazonia,” which won second place for Best Book of 1963.
She wrote or translated from Italian 12 books related to the ASC congregation. In her desire to promote needed diocesan programs and to facilitate parish participation and leadership, she wrote numerous guides, articles and handbooks. She gave retreats in seven dioceses, provided in-service workshops and seminars to leadership groups in many more dioceses, was a frequent keynote speaker at teacher and professional in-services, and served on several college and hospital boards of trustees. In 1990, she was named Educator of the Decade in the Oklahoma City Archdiocese.
After retiring to the ASC Wichita Center in 1998, she was a volunteer researcher, writer, and resource person. The world-view of cultures and Church she cultivated throughout her life continued to blend with her deep sense of gratitude. She enjoyed having time to oil paint, make beautiful greeting cards, and do needlework. She became a resident of Caritas Center in 2012, where she received loving care as her health declined. She was able to join the community liturgy on Feb. 9 for the anointing of the sick. She received Jesus in Holy Communion for the last time on Feb. 14.
Her parents, her brother, Fred, and her sister, Edith, preceded her in death. Her sister, Phyllis, her brother, Don, and their nieces, nephews and spouses, survive her, as do her ASC community members.
Sister Loretta’s body will be welcomed at 2 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 23 to the Wichita Center followed by a wake service at 7 p.m. The Mass of Resurrection will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 24, with Father Tom Welk, CPPS, presiding.