History of the Loretto Academy

The Loretto Academy of the Visitation

One of the Sisters of Loretto
One of the Sisters of Loretto

The first few years in Las Cruces were marked by hardship and poverty. Although the local bishop had purchased land for the academy, there was no building ready when the Sisters arrived. The Sisters accepted the invitation by Mrs. William Tully to begin teaching in her home. Upper-class families were impressed with the Sisters' school and many sent their children to be educated by them. When construction on the convent was finished the Sisters and their students moved into the new building. Until 1880 the chapel had only a rag carpet and the altar was composed of makeshift board and muslin. The floors of the convent were made of hard mud covered with rugs, and every five days the Sisters had to remove the carpets, clean them, and sprinkle the dirt floor with water. Meals consisted of bread, beans, and coffee made from parched wheat.

It was perhaps this poverty, shared with the surrounding community, that made the Sisters so accepted and so successful in their endeavors. The establishment of a convent in Las Cruces also eased the Sisters' integration into their new community by bringing local women into the Order. The foundation was set for the arrival of one of the most important figures in the history of the school to make her appearance in Las Cruces.

Information based on the thesis The Sisters of Loretto in Las Cruces: The Education and "Americanization" of a Frontier Community, 1870-1943 by Wendy C. Simpson.