History of the Loretto Academy

John Baptist Lamy
John Baptist Lamy

John Baptist Lamy, who arrived in New Mexico in 1848 to oversee the establishment of the American Catholic church in that territory, and who later became the first Archbishop of Santa Fe, set as his goal the "Americanization" of the people of New Mexico.

He felt that Catholic schools would be the best means for accomplishing this goal by not only educating New Mexicans, but also by providing a means for introducing "American" language, culture, and values. During this time of westward expansion and increasing European immigration, religious orders of women were at the forefront of Catholic education in the United States. Therefore, Lamy felt that a teaching sisterhood would best accomplish his goals in New Mexico, by bringing American-style schools, American Catholic practices and beliefs, and American culture to a people who had only recently become American citizens. In 1852, Lamy traveled to the First Plenary Council in Baltimore to find an order of religious women willing to take on the challenge of establishing schools in New Mexico. The Sisters of Loretto, a teaching order established in Kentucky in 1812, immediately volunteered for the task.



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.