Sister Loretta Schafer


Sister Loretta Schafer (formerly Sister Michael) was born in Chicago, Illinois on April 2, 1917. She entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Providence July 16, 1935. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and physics from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, and master and doctoral degrees in chemistry from the University of Notre Dame. She taught in elementary and high schools and college, including Providence Juniorate, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, and Providence College, Taichung, Taiwan. Sister Loretta served as co-provincial of St. Joseph Province from 1971 until 1976, when she was elected general superior. She held this position until 1981.

Important accomplishments during her administration as general superior were: the completion of the revision of the congregation’s Constitutions and Complementary Document; the Pearce Study of the physical plant needs of the motherhouse; the construction of the Maryvale housing complex for senior citizens; the sale of Marywood High School to the Diocese of Orange; the sale of Providence-St. Mel to Paul Adams; initial planning for an Office of Development; work on Mother Theodore’s Cause, notably by assigning Sister Joseph Eleanor Ryan to write the Positio.

After completing her term as general superior, Sister Loretta served for eight years as vice-chancellor for the Indianapolis archdiocese, and then as the first woman chancellor for two years. Her devotion to Mother Theodore was evident in her final ministry – that of promoter of the foundress’s Cause, from 1992 to 1996. By this time her health was failing. She died February 19, 1998.