Sister of Loretto Jane Marie Richardson — a teacher, composer, leader and contemplative — died March 10 at the Loretto Motherhouse in Nerinx, Ky. She was 85 and in her 67th year as a Sister of Loretto at the Foot of the Cross.
Early in religious life, Sister Richardson, a native of Louisville, taught music in Colorado, Missouri and at Loretto High School, her alma mater. In 1959, she began teaching music in St. Louis at Webster College (now university) and at Marillac College.
She became mistress of postulants in 1963 and over the years, she worked with women in discernment and young sisters.
In 1964, Sister Richardson was serving on the Loretto general council and assisted the Loretto leader, Sister Mary Luke Tobin during the Second Vatican Council in Rome.
She later wrote, “We were already en route there — Luke recognized it (the council) as history in the making and wanted to be near. Our ship was off the coast of western Africa when two cable calls came. The Associated Press in New York and (Loretto) Sister Helen Sanders in St. Louis both wanted to congratulate (Sister Luke) on having been named that very day an official observer, the only American woman invited. Elation! I wanted champagne but we had to settle for ice cream. Those were great growing days in the Church.”
After the council, Sister Richardson was charged with the task of writing new guidelines for the Sisters of Loretto way of life. She and Sister Tobin consulted Thomas Merton (Trappist Father Louis) at the Abbey of Gethsemani during this process.
In the 1970s, Sister Richardson entered contemplative life in a hermitage on the Loretto Motherhouse grounds and later created the Sisters’ Cedars of Peace hermitages, small cabins on the motherhouse grounds that are available for individual retreats.
From 1970 to 1997, Sister Richardson focused also on composing music, creating about 150 songs. She recorded a CD of her musical reflections in 2003.
In later years, Sister Richardson did spiritual direction, retreat work, volunteer service in Louisville and served on the Archdiocese of Louisville’s board for ecumenism. She moved to the Loretto Motherhouse Infirmary in the fall of 2013.
She is survived by her brothers and their spouses: Robert and Mildred Richardson, Keith and Mary Richardson, Ralph Richardson, Ronald and Theresa Richardson and by her sister-in-law Agnes “Bitty” Richardson, all of the Louisville area. A wake for Sister Richardson will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. March 14 at the Loretto Motherhouse.
The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at the Church of the Seven Dolors at Loretto on March 15 at 10 a.m. Burial will be in the Loretto Motherhouse Cemetery.
Memorials may be sent to the Loretto Community, care of the Loretto Development Office, 4000 S. Wadsworth Blvd., Littleton, Colo., 80123-1308.