BIOGRAPHY OF SR. LORETTO EUGENIA MAPA, R.A.
Born Ana Lucia Tomasa Michaela Ledesma Mapa on September 22, 1934 to Placido Mapa and Loreto Ledesma, in Bacolod, Negros Occidental. Called by her family as Ging-ging, Nenette or Annie.
The family lived in Talisay Central where her father was General Manager of Talisay Sugar Central.
They moved to Manila during the Quezon Era when her father was offered a position in the government.
Annie attended Maryknoll College for her first and second grades. When the war broke out, Maryknoll students were sent to Assumption, Herran for safety. She made her first communion at the chapel of Assumption. She continued her third and fourth grades in Assumption, Herran.
During the war, the family went to and stayed in Cabinet Hill, Baguio. They also visited the Assumption vacation place of the nuns, which was then situated in Mt. Mary, Baguio.
When carpet bombing began, the family evacuated to the mountains of Maryhill. There, and in hiding, they did various activities like sewing the American flag. Annie was helpful with the family chores. She was close to and was frequently at the side of her aunt whom we know as Mother Cristina Augusta Ledesma.
After the bombing, the family went back down from the mountains. Her father was then acting Mayor of Baguio. At 8 years of age, Annie contracted acute appendicitis. She was taken to the only hospital available, the Army Hospital where no lay person was allowed. But because her Papa was acting Mayor who pleaded with the doctors to save the life of his child, Annie who was “99%” dead, was admitted. She was operated on and she recovered.
At the Thanksgiving Mass, Annie’s Mama told her, “God saved your life. Be good. God has something for you to do and you will do it for God.” Annie never forgot that. This was the beginning of her vocation.
Back in Manila, Annie went back to Assumption for 5th grade. She graduated with high school class 1951. In 1955, she finished her AB degree with two majors: History and English, Cum Laude. In school, Annie was active with various different school activities like the Regina, SCA, Sodality. She also participated in the plays that Fr. James B. Reuter, S.J. produced. Some of her classmates were Aurora Malvar now Sr. Annunciata Maria, Angelita Yap, Mercedes Rufino, Judy Araneta..
One event that stood out for Annie was in her junior year, 1950. She was 16 years old. She joined the school’s Holy Year Pilgrimage. It was her first trip to Europe. They went to the Holy Land, Rome, Belgium, Switzerland and Lourdes with Mother Immaculada. She had her first audience with Pope Pius XII. In Lourdes, she asked Our Lady’s guidance regarding her vocation. Annie attributes Mother Mary as her guiding light during her maiden days.
Annie told her Mother about her vocation, but took it easy after her college graduation. She traveled. At one point, she attended a retreat of discernment where JD Constantino (now Sr. Mary Therese Joseph of Carmel) guided her. Eventually, Mother Esperanza asked her to work at her office and be a substitute teacher at Assumption.
Her brother, Cidito, introduced her to Fr. James Culligan, S.J, who became Annie’s spiritual director. He helped her discern her religious vocation.
Two years after her college graduation, Annie asked to enter the Assumption and was accepted. In April 1957, accompanied by her Papa, Annie left for the Assumption International Novitiate in Auteuil, Paris. The first Assumption novitiate was in Val Notre Dame, Belgium.
In 1959, Annie who took the religious name of Sr. Loretto Eugenia, made her first vows in Auteuil.
In 1960, she was assigned Assistant Sister of Class to Mother Milagros Dayrit in Herran. She had the 6th and 7th grade students.
In 1961, she became Mistress of Class in San Lorenzo to 3rd and 4th grade students and followed them all throughout until their junior year in high school.
In 1970, Mere Helene Marie became the Superior General of Assumption. Sr. Loretto was assigned Mistress of Novices in Herran, a position which Mother Maria Angela Ansaldo vacated when she was named first Filipino Provincial Superior of Assumption, Philippines.
It was also in 1970 when Sr. Loretto completed her graduate degree with a Masters in Education, major in Guidance and Counseling at La Salle College.
In 1972, Martial Law broke out. Sr. Loretto was sent back to San Lorenzo because by then Mother Marthe, who was then Superior of San Lorenzo, was taken ill. Sr. Loretto became the Superior of San Lorenzo and Mistress of Juniors, concurrently.
1972 marked the beginning of the most turbulent years because of the beginnings of activism and the outbreak of liberation theology. As Dr. Augusto Camara once commented to her “Your heart is depressed!” It was during these years when she became good friends with Fr. Carlos Abesamis, SJ, Msgr. Fernando Capalla, Ed de la Torre.
In 1976, Sr. Loretto was sent as a delegate to the Assumption General Chapter in Auteuil, Paris.
In 1977, she was named Superior of San Lorenzo and Acting Principal of the school.
From 1978 to 1982 she was Mistress of Novices in San Lorenzo and later at the new Novitiate House in Antipolo.
From 1982 to 1986, she was assigned Superior of the community in Bukidnon, Mindanao.
In 1986, Sr. Loretto went to the United States and became a student at the Jesuit Weston School of Theology in Cambridge, Massachusetts where she completed her Masters Degree in Theology in 1989.
In 1987, after a small reunion with former Assumption students in Chicago, and a memorial service for Sr. Ma. Luisa who had just then passed away, she invited Mary Rose Jacinto of New York to organize a wider reunion of Assumption students in the U.S. On August 15, 1987, the first Assumption alumnae reunion in Northern America took place in New York. Sr. Loretto became and continues to be the moderator of the alumnae abroad. There have been triennial (every 3 years) reunions since then, hosted in turn by the different regions of the Assumption Alumnae Association Abroad.
From 1989 to 1995, Sr. Loretto was in Bowman, Marion, Pennsylvania. She assisted the aged sisters and helped out at the Spiritual Center.
In 1991 Sr. Loretto started the Filipino Ministry at the St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Philadelphia.
In 1995, she initiated the Filipino Apostolate in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. And from then till the present time (2009), she has been the Coordinator of this apostolate, with Fr. Efren Esmilla as the Chaplain.
Sr. Loretto’s commitment to the pastoral work in the Parish and the Archdiocese, particularly to the Filipino community, encouraged spiritual growth and a depth of understanding of other cultures. She instilled a desire to serve and to allow that commitment to work for the glory of God. The same can be said of all her efforts and dedication to her students, her novices and juniors, her sisters in community, her lay collaborators, and to all the friends she was given in life. Deo Gratias.
Interview conducted and written by Enid Sevilla (January 26, 2009)
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