From the Editors 29 (2011)Engineer and Editor Juan Hart Moved El Paso Forward 29 (2011)Elizabeth Garrett: Songbird of the Southwest 29 (2011)A Passionate Life: Josephine Clardy Fox 29 (2011)Forgotten No More: Korean War POW Tells Story of Survival 29 (2011)Janice Woods Windle Treasures Family History 29 (2011)Andy and Syd Cohen: The Men Behind the Name 29 (2011)Leona Ford Washington Preserved Black History 29(2011)Ingeborg Heuser Brought Professional Ballet to City 29 (2011)Lee and Beulah Moor Left Legacy of Love 29 (2011)
From the Editors 28 (2010)Chasin’ Away the Blues: Texas Sunday Legislation 28 (2010)Simeon Hart Pioneered Local Industry 28 (2010)Felix Martinez: Southwestern Renaissance Man 28 (2010)Teresa Urrea: La Santa de Cabora Inspired Mexican Revolution 28 (2010)Utopia in Mesilla: The Shalam Colony 28 (2010)Stahmann Farms Produce Pecans on Two Hemispheres 28 (2010)Betty Mary Goetting Brought Birth Control to El Paso 28 (2010)Maud Sullivan Made El Paso Public Library a Cultural Center 28 (2010)Lucy Acosta’s Legacy Continues in LULAC 28 (2010)Belen Robles: Voice for the Latino Community 28 (2010)Toltec Club: Of Ghosts and Guests 28 (2010)
Strong Women Building a Strong City -- From the Editors 27(2008)Notable Women of El Paso 27(2009)The Chew Legacy: The Story of Herlinda Wong Chew 27(2009)Desert Nightingale: Louise Dietrich 27(2009)1909-2009: YWCA Celebrates 100 Years in El Paso 27(2009)Mabel Welch: El Paso’s First Female Architect 27(2009)Myrna Deckert Remains Modest About Achievements 27(2009)Suzie Azar Still Reaches for the Sky 27 (2009)The Moocher: Callie Fairley, First Woman Vice Detective in El Paso 27(2009)Alicia R. Chacón Came to Politics Naturally 27 (2009)Rosa Guerrero: Cultural Dynamo 27 (2009)
From the Past to the Present -- From the Editor 26 (2007/08)Yandell Boulevard Named for Prominent El Paso Physician 26 (2007/08)Japanese Immigrants Came Slowly to Borderland 26 (2007/08)World War II Affected Japanese Immigrants 26 (2007/08)Living, Breathing New Mexico Ghost Town: Hillsboro 26 (2007/08)Canutillo Developed from Land Grant 26 (2007/08)Rómulo Escobar Zerman: Juárez Agronomist and Teacher 26 (2007/08)El Paso Mayor: Tom Lea Jr. 26 (2007/08)Ted Karam: Lebanese Immigrant Lived American Dream 26 (2007/08)Publication Credits 26 (2007/08)
From the Director 25 (2006)First El Paso Protestant Church: St. Clement's 25 (2006)Bowie High School: Always a Bear 25 (2006)Golden Gloves Grew Out of El Paso's Love of Boxing 25 (2006)LULAC Fought Hard to Guarantee Rights 25 (2006)El Paso Women Gained Power in LULAC 25 (2006)McKelligon Canyon: From Cattle to Culture 25 (2006)Tortugas Celebrates Virgen de Guadalupe, San Juan 25 (2006)Bataan Death March and POW Camps 25 (2006)Bataan Survivors Recall Horrors 25 (2006)Anthony Family Had Five Sons in World War II 25 (2006)Sober on the Border 25 (2006)Clyde W. Tombaugh: Farm Boy Reached for the Stars 25 (2006)A Taste of Southwest Wine 25 (2006)
From the Director 24 (2005)From the Editors 24 (2005)Gypsie Davenport and May Palmer Ran Infamous Brothels 24 (2005)Pioneer Attorney William Burges Tackled Unpopular Issues 24 (2005)Richard Fenner Burges: Renaissance Man 24 (2005)Charles Kelly Wielded Power with Political 'Ring' 24 (2005)Tom Charles Wanted World to Know White Sands 24 (2005)Dripping Springs has Rich History 24 (2005)Thomas B. White Directed Innovative La Tuna for 19 Years 24 (2005)Cowboys on the Range --- Missile Range, That Is 24 (2005)Ranchers vs. the Feds: The McNew Saga 24 (2005)Mexican Repatriation in 1930s 24 (2005)White House Department Store 24 (2005)Thomason Hospital Celebrates 90 Years 24 (2005)R.E. Thomason Shaped City, State, Nation 24 (2005)
Postcards from the Past Editor's Column 23 (2004)From the Editors 23 (2004)Solomon C. Schutz Helped Bring Law and Order to El Paso 23 (2004)James Gillett Showed Courage in El Paso 23 (2004)Jim White Explored Carlsbad Caverns for Years 23 (2004)Ben Lilly: Mountain Man of the Southwest 23 (2004)Aldo Leopold Proposed Land Ethics 23 (2004)Escontrias Ranch: A Link to Hueco Tanks Park 23 (2004)Hueco Tanks is Site of Controversy 23 (2004)Marcelino Serna Became World War I Hero 23 (2004)Sam Dreben Soldiered All Over the World 23 (2004)Kern Place Neighborhood: The Man Behind the Name 23 (2004)Farah Manufacturing Now Just a Memory 23 (2004)Texas Knights of Columbus Began in El Paso 23 (2004)
Look for Us on the Web - Editor's Column 22 (2003)From the Editors 22 (2003)Victorio Fought to the Death for Homeland 22 (2003)O. T. Bassett and Charles R. Morehead 22 (2003)S. H. Newman: Pioneer Newspaperman Fought Vice 22 (2003)Elfego Baca Lived More Than Nine Lives 22 (2003)Woman's Club Has Long Served City 22 (2003)Cathedral's Beauty Pleases 22 (2003)Albert J. Fountain's Achievements Eclipsed by Mysterious Death 22 (2003)Albert B. Fall's Career Ended in Disgrace 22 (2003)Cloudcroft Baby Sanatorium Saved Many 22 (2003)Dale Resler Worked Hard for El Paso 22 (2003)Price's Dairy Still Family Owned 22 (2003)Woodlawn Bottling Brought Pepsi to Town 22 (2003)Union Depot Witnessed Growth of El Paso 22 (2003)
We're Now on the Web --From the Editor 21(2002)From the Editors 21(2002)Downtown Opium Dens Attracted Many 21(2002)Juneteenth Celebrates Freedom for Texas Slaves 21(2002)Black Cowboys Rode the Trails, Too 21(2002)Ku Klux Klan Had Short Life in El Paso 21(2002)Mining Became Big Business in Southwest 21(2002)Smeltertown Still Exists in Memories 21 (2002)El Paso Played Important Role in the Mexican Revolution 21 (2002)Pancho Villa Led Northern Forces in Revolution 21 (2002)Soldaderas Played Important Roles in Revolution 21 (2002)Pershing, Villa Forever Linked to Columbus 21 (2002)Cristeros Became Mexican Martyrs 1926-1929 -- 21 (2002)Houchen Settlement House Helped New Arrivals 21 (2002)Otis A. Aultman Captured Border History in Pictures 21 (2002)
Hot Springs Have Long HistoryThe Building of a City -- From the Editor 20 (2001)From the Staff (Volume 20)Pat Garrett Enjoyed Controversy 20 (2001)Marshal Dallas Stoudenmire Terrorized Town 20 (2001)History Reveals Rivalry of Madams Etta Clark and Alice Abbott 20 (2001)Kohlberg, Krupp, Zielonka Became Business and Civic Leaders 20 (2001)Olga Kohlberg Pioneered Many Local Organizations 20 (2001)Henry Trost's Architectural Legacy Lives On 20 (2001)Sunset Heights Preserves History 20 (2001)Adolph Schwartz Built Local Retail Dynasty 20 (2001)Zach T. White Brought Progress to El Paso 20 (2001)Masons Became Leaders in Texas, El Paso 20 (2001)Smallpox Epidemic Showed Need for Hospitals20 (2001)El Paso High School Remains Classic 20 (2001)Bhutanese Architecture Distinguishes UTEP Campus 20 (2001)Elephant Butte Dam Solved Early Water Problems 20 (2001)
Pioneer Ranch became Concordia Cemetery 19 (2000)El Paso Grows Up 19 (2000)From the Staff 19 (2000)Chinese Immigrants Helped Build Railroad in El Paso 19 (2000)Volunteer Fire Department Grew into Professional Company 19 (2000)1880s Brought First Theaters to Town 19 (2000)Sisters of Charity Began Hotel Dieu Hospital 19 (2000)Tuberculosis Turned El Paso Into a Health Center 19 (2000)First Public School Built in 1884 19 (2000)Enigmatic Olivas Aoy Began School for Mexican Children 19 (2000)El Paso Public Library Began Modestly 19 (2000)Jesuits Continue to Influence Area 19 (2000)Sisters of Loretto Have Long Tradition in Southwest 19 (2000)Mormons Found Sanctuary in Mexico in 1880s 19 (2000)Mennonite Colonies in Mexico Accept Change Slowly 19 (2000)Flu Epidemic of 1918 Hit El Paso Hard 19 (2000)Early City Planners Saw Future in Scenic Drive 19 (2000)Prohibition Stimulated Economies of El Paso, Juárez 19 (2000)
The Editor's Column : The Building of a City 18 (1999)From the Editors 18 (1999)Magoffinsville Had Lasting Influence on El Paso 18 (1999)Town of El Paso Grew from Pioneer Settlements 18 (1999)Downtown El Paso Is Monument to Anson Mills 18 (1999)1848 War With Mexico Created Southwest 18 (1999)Colonel Doniphan and Volunteers Won Battle of Brazito 18 (1999)Gadsden Purchase Clarified U.S. Boundaries 18 (1999)Early Fort Bliss Occupied Pioneer Sites 18 (1999)Henry O. Flipper Paved Way for Integration of Military 18 (1999)Buffalo Soldiers Defended Western Frontier 18 (1999)El Paso Was Midpoint of Overland Mail Service 18 (1999)Salt War of 1877 Divided Southwest Residents 18 (1999)Geronimo Led Final Fight 18 (1999)Apache Indians Defended Homelands in Southwest 18 (1999)Texas Rangers Helped Keep Order on Frontier 18 (1999)Sarah Bowman and Tillie Howard: Madams of the 1800s 18 (1999)El Paso Grew Up with Arrival of Railroad 18 (1999)
Aztecs Ruled Complex, Rich Society 17 (1998)From the Editor 17 (1998)Aztec Beliefs Helped Conquer Mexico 17 (1998)Cortés Created New Order in Mexico 17 (1998)La Malinche Remains Controversial 17 (1998)Cabeza de Vaca: Travels in Texas 17 (1998)Estebán Furthered Legend of Cíbola 17 (1998)Coronado Searched for Cities of Gold 17 (1998)Oñate Conquered Desert to Explore Southwest 17 (1998)Festival Celebrates Oñate's Historic Arrival 17 (1998)Fray Garcia Left Great Legacy 17 (1998)Franciscans Brought Catholicism to Area 17 (1998)America's First Highway: El Camino Real 17 (1998)Pueblo Revolt Brought Tiguas South 17 (1998)Tigua Indians Survive 300 Years of Ordeals 17 (1998)Area Missions are Part of Living History 17 (1998)San Elizario Presidio Protected Settlers 17 (1998)Ethnic Terms Can Cause Confusion 17 (1998)
Oasis Restaurants Symbolized ‘50s Teen Scene 13 (1995)‘50s Cars Changed American Lifestyle And Image 13 (1995)Chevy Bel Air Charmed 1950 Car Buyers 13 (1995)San Jacinto Plaza Remains Heart Of Downtown El Paso 13 (1995)Smokey Bear: A Legend Is Made 13 (1995)El Paso's Company E Survivors Remember Rapido River Assaults 13 (1995)Company E Survivor Recalls Days As Prisoner Of War 13 (1995)El Paso Red Cross Essential to War Effort 13 (1995)World War II Took its Toll On The Home Front 13 (1995)Civil Air Patrol Protected Border During World War II -- 13 (1995)Quickie Divorces Granted in Juárez 13 (1995)Atomic Bomb Developed In Southwest 13 (1995)Former Crew Members On B-17s Remember Tough Times 13 (1995)Vintage Warplanes Keep Past Alive 13 (1995)The Cavalry Bugler: Essential To Horse and Man 13 (1995)Sun Carnival 1936 Style 13 (1995)H. Arthur Brown: El Paso Symphony Guru Of The ‘30s -- 13 (1995)Swing Music Helped Dispel The Blues Of The ‘30s and ‘40s -- 13 (1995)The General Store: A Hidden Treasure Of The Past 13 (1995)
Change on the Border 15 (1997)From the Editor 15 (1997)Latinos Work To Change Stereotypes In Hollywood 15 (1997)Cesar Chávez: Simple Man, People’s Hero 15 (1997)Shelter For Farm Workers Becomes Reality 15 (1997)Women’s Shelter Helps To Heal The Pain 15 (1997)Home Schools Become Popular Alternative 15 (1997)Renovation May Revive Downtown El Paso 15 (1997)Title IX Changed Women's Sports 15 (1997)Special Olympics Shine In El Paso 15 (1997)La Fe Clinic Serves South El Paso 15 (1997)ASARCO Works To Clean Up Its Act 15 (1997)A Growing Phenomenon: Single Fathers 15 (1997)Stepfamilies Become More Numerous 15 (1997)Teens Rebel Against Authority 15 (1997)Comics Retain Popularity 15 (1997)Tom Moore And Archie Have Timeless Appeal 15 (1997)
Life on the Border: 1950s & 1960s --14 (1996)From The Editors 14 (1996)A Baseball Team By Any Other Name 14 (1996)Drive-In Theaters Appealed to all Ages 14 (1996)El Paso Trolley First to Connect Two Nations 14 (1996)Barbie Doll Revolutionized Toy Industry 14 (1996)Rabies Took Bite of Sun City 14 (1996)Rabies: A Deadly Virus 14 (1996)Border Patrol Used Variety of Methods to Control Immigration 14 (1996)L. A. Nixon Fought Texas Voting Law 14 (1996)Douglass School Served Black Community Well 14 (1996)Thelma White Case Forced College Integration 14 (1996)Steve Crosno: An El Paso Original 14 (1996)Rock 'N' Roll Defined Teen Culture 14 (1996)A Shopping Mall by the People for the People 14 (1996)Chamizal Dispute Settled Peacefully 14 (1996)Turney Mansion Becomes Work of Art 14 (1996)First Hispanic Mayor Elected in 1957 -- 14 (1996)Flower Children Chose Alternative Lifestyle 14 (1996)
Three Decades of History 12 (1994)From the Editors 12 (1994)The Plaza Theater…Here to Stay!? 12 (1994)El Paso Broadcasting: The Stories Behind the Call Letters 12 (1994)Alphabet Agencies: FDR's Brainstorm 12 (1994)Chihuahuita in the 1930s: Tough Times in the Barrio 12 (1994)Hobo Sign Language Targeted El Paso 12 (1994)Self- Sufficiency Key to Farmers' Survival During Depression 12 (1994)Hanna's Story A Holocaust Survivor Remembers 12 (1994)Former Members Recall Life in Hitler Youth 12 (1994)German Prisoners of War Interned at Fort Bliss During World War II -- 12 (1994)German POWs Remembered at Fort Bliss 12 (1994)One German POW's Story 12 (1994)Ration Books and Victory Gardens: Coping with Shortages 12 (1994)Women Changed Wartime Work Patterns 12 (1994)Bracero Program Hurt Domestic Farm Workers 12 (1994)San Pedro Pharmacy Retains Look of the Past 12 (1994)Teenage Fashions of the Nifty Fifties 12 (1994)Rebel Image of Motorcyclists Set in 1950s -- 12 (1994)
Border Customs and Crafts From the Editor 10 (1992)From the Editors 10 (1992)King on the Mountain 10 (1992)Piñatas! 10 (1992)How to Play the Piñata Game 10 (1992)Out of a Cotton Boll Bloom Beautiful Crafts 10 (1992)Cotton Boll Entertains Too 10 (1992)Hands That Create Art and Soul 10 (1992)La Charreada - Mexican Horsemanship 10 (1992)Boots - A Family Tradition 10 (1992)Some Boys Still Grow Up to be Cowboys 10 (1992)Boot Capital of the World 10 (1992)The Magic of Mariachis 10 (1992)Ballet Folklorico - High School Style 10 (1992)New Generation of Mariachis 10 (1992)The Lady is a Bullfighter 10 (1992)The Midwife: Choices for Border Women 10 (1992)Retablos: Echoes of Faith 10 (1992)Tigua Indians: Dancing for St. Anthony 10 (1992)The Aztec and the Miracle 10 (1992)A Hispanic Girl's Coming of Age 10 (1992)Art - Low and Slow 10 (1992)Wedding Traditions on the Border 10 (1992)
Border Food Folkways From the Editor 9 (1991)From the Staff 9 (1991)Tortillas: Border Staff of Life 9 (1991)The Booming Tortilla Industry in Mexico 9 (1991)Where's The Beef? In El Paso! 9 (1991)How Do I Love Thee, Piggy? Let Me Count the Ways! 9 (1991)Tamales By Any Other Name Remain The Same 9 (1991)Rio Grande Thanksgiving 9 (1991)The Tigua Indians: Food for Thought 9 (1991)Corn: The Golden Gift from Our Ancestors 9 (1991)Border Pottery - Function and Beauty 9 (1991)Holy Hot Mole! 9 (1991)Looking Back at the Chile Pepper 9 (1991)Men Behind the Chile Pepper 9 (1991)Hot Peppers : They're Not Just for Eating 9 (1991)Food, Spices Double as Folk Cures 9 (1991)Weeds or Edible Desert Plants? 9 (1991)Cactus: It's Good for You! 9 (1991)Day of the Dead Celebrates Spiritual Tradition 9 (1991)Nutricious, Delicious Beans 9 (1991)Menudo Makes The Big Time 9 (1991)Mediterranean Cuisine: Old Tradition, Fresh Idea 9 (1991)Lenten Foods: From Fasting to Fabulous 9 (1991)Tarahumaras Rely on Nature for Food 9 (1991)Tempting Sweet Breads : Pan de Dulce 9 (1991)
Border Customs and Crafts II From the Editor -- 11 (1993)From the Editors 11 (1993)The Best Little Asaderos in Texas 11 (1993)Glass Work Disappearing on Border 11 (1993)Cockfights Legal in Surrounding Areas 11 (1993)Local Craftsmen Keep Art of Saddlery Alive 11 (1993)James and Joseph Magoffin: El Paso Pioneers 11 (1993)Chile Ristras Brighten Border Homes 11 (1993)Magoffin Home Preserves El Paso's Past 11 (1993)Bavarian Custom Celebrated in El Paso: Oktoberfest 11 (1993)Munich on the Border 11 (1993)Santo Niño de Atocha Called Miracle Worker 11 (1993)Lenten Customs Vary 11 (1993)To Ask is to Receive 11 (1993)Border Maintains Tradition of Posadas 11 (1993)A Visit from Three Kings 11 (1993)Matachines: Soldiers of the Virgin 11 (1993)Dichos Are an Intricate Part of Mexican Culture 11 (1993)Cultural Superstitions Affect Behavior 11 (1993)Que Onda Homeboy! Why Do We Talk Like This? 11 (1993)Traditional Hispanic Children's Games Disappear 11 (1993)
El Paso Women to ResearchEl Paso Women to Research (by name)El Paso Men to ResearchEl Paso Men to Research (by name)
From the Editors 30 (2012)From the Editor, Credits and Contents 30 (2012)Jessie Hawkins and Jenna Welch: Love, Loss and Laughter 30 (2012)Woodrow Wilson Bean: One in a Million 30 (2012)David L. Carrasco Gave Back to Hometown 30 (2012)Cleofas Calleros Made Local History Important 30 (2012)Robert E. McKee: From Rags to Riches to Philanthropy 30 (2012)Kate Moore Brown: A Woman of Many Firsts 30 (2012)Fun in the 1890s: The McGinty Club 30 (2012)
Borderlands Web Issue From the Editor 31(2013/14)Acknowledgements 31(2013/14)Mother Praxedes Carty: Serving God by Serving Others 31(2013/14)Carrie Tingley Hospital and the Couple Behind It 31 (2013/14)Harvey Girls Changed the West 31(2013/14)Jake Erlich: A Big Man in Many Ways 31(2013/14)Vernus Carey: Mr. YMCA 31(2013/14)
Borderlands 32 Tolerance. From the Editors and Acknowledgements 32(2014/15)Henry Kellen Created El Paso Holocaust Museum 32(2014/15)Bicycle Padre Still Working 32(2014/15)El Paso Connections: Ambrose Bierce: writer 32(2014/15)Mysterious Deaths: Bobby Fuller, Rock Icon 32(2014/15)Mysterious Deaths: Tom Ogle, Inventor 32(2014/15)Jake Erlich: A Big Man in Many Ways 32(2014)Harvey Girls Changed the West 32(2014)
Borderlands 33 Service. From the Editors and Acknowledgements 33(2015)Nothing Is Impossible: Major General Heidi V. Brown 33 (2015)Local Latino Soldiers Receive Medal of Honor Decades after Heroism 33 (2015)Vernus Carey: Mr. YMCA 33 (2015)Will the Real Leon Blevins Please stand up? 33 (2015)Carrie Tingley Hospital and the Couple Behind It 33 (2015)Mother Praxedes Carty: Serving God by Serving Others 33 (2015)
Borderlands 34 Inspiration. From the Editors and Acknowledgements 34(2016/17)Building Bridges Instead of Walls: Temple Mount Sinai 34 (2016/17)Ruben Salazar: A Bridge Between Two Societies 34 (2016/17)Luis Jimenez: Art Creates Dialogue 34 (2016/17)Richard "Tuff" Hedeman: The Michael Jordan of Professional Bull Riding 34 (2016/17)Rescue Mission of El Paso Provides Food and Opportunity 34 (2016/17)
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Mother Praxedes Carty: Serving God by Serving Others

Article first published in electronic form  in Volume 31, 2013/2014.   Read PDF of printed article from Volume 33, 2015. 

Mother Praxedes Carty, SuperiorBy David Andrade, Priscilla Porras, Angelica Soto and Heather Coons

In El Paso, one of the most recognized private educational institutions is Loretto Academy. Located in the peaceful area known as Austin Terrace, Loretto overlooks El Paso and her sister city, Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico. The Academy was established by the Sisters of Loretto at the Foot of the Cross who celebrated their bicentennial in 2012. The school was the last project of an Irish nun who had led the Lorettines as Superior General for more than a quarter of a century and had come back to her beloved Southwest to spend her last years: Mother Praxedes Carty.

Image caption:  Susan Carty  became Mother Praxedes Carty and served as Superior General of the Loretto Order for 26 years. (Photo courtesy of El Paso County Historical Society)

Mother Praxedes was born Susan Carty in Bawnboy, Ireland, on March 4, 1854. According to the book Only One Heart: The Story of a Pioneer Nun in America, by Sister Patricia Jean Manion, Susan’s father, Mark, was the village miller, while her mother, Ellen, was busy taking care of the family home and Susan’s ten brothers and sisters. The Carty Family were devoted Catholics, and for Susan, this love for God was deeply instilled in her heart. The family would kneel together to say the rosary, laugh and joke at dinnertime and tell Irish folk stories at night.

Although Susan wasn’t considered the prettiest of the Carty girls, her father always remarked that she “had a heart of gold.” At a very young age, Susan served as a guide to Moira, the local blind beggar woman, because, according to the local priest, to serve God was to serve others.

Facing a struggling economy and religious persecution from Protestants for being Catholic, the Carty Family decided to immigrate to America. Susan’s first thought was about Moira and how she would get along without her. The young Susan even had a fleeting thought that she should stay behind in Ireland so Moira wouldn’t get lost along the road.

In June 1865, the Carty Family left Ireland for a new life in St. Louis, Mo. Their father worked hard as a miller in one of the factories, while their mother toiled to try to make their house on O’Fallon Street a home.

At the beginning of the summer of 1866, Susan was first introduced to the Sisters of Loretto. At the age of 12, Susan and her sister, Maria, along with her sister’s new husband, David, traveled by riverboat to Cape Girardeau, Mo. Upon arrival, they were greeted at the river by Mother Bridget and David’s sister, Sister Cecilia. Susan was fascinated by the black habits of the nuns, especially the two little red hearts that were embroidered on their capes. When Susan asked what the hearts stood for, Sister Cecilia explained that they represented the hearts of Mother Mary and Jesus.

Mother Bridget and Sister Cecilia escorted Susan to St. Vincent’s Academy, a boarding school run by the Sisters of Loretto. The school sat tall and proud upon a grassy hill, with a small chapel and children playing out by the orchard. She even found that the school had its own art studio, but it was the nuns and the pretty embroidered hearts on their habits that Susan fell in love with. After returning home, Susan gained a promise from her father that come the start of the next school year, she would be attending school with the Sisters of Loretto.

In August 1866, Susan’s parents decided to return to Ireland because Ellen was homesick and very depressed. Only taking their youngest child with them, they left their other children in care of their oldest daughter, Maria. Because of the expense to go back to Ireland, Susan’s father explained she would not be able to attend St. Vincent’s Academy after all. She was heartbroken.

That September, Susan began school at St. Philomena’s, run by the Sisters of Charity, and while there were girls playing about in the yard and a little church and nuns, there were no little red hearts on their habits. For Susan, it just wasn’t the same. She dreadfully missed Mother Bridget and Sister Cecilia, as well as her parents.

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In 1868, Maria fell sick and died, either from typhoid fever or pneumonia, or both ‒ a doctor could not determine ‒ and Susan began caring for Maria’s three sons. News of their eldest daughter’s death reached Mark and Ellen in Ireland, and they quickly made plans to return to America. In the spring of 1869, the family was reunited.

By this time Susan was 15, and like most young ladies her age, she took great care and pride in her appearance, curling her hair and adorning it with ribbons while making sure her dress and shoes were always perfect. She also found herself the subject of teasing from her family for being so vain.  

Although Susan still regularly prayed on her knees with her rosary and attended Catholic services, she had no intention of becoming a nun. She decided to apply for her first job at Hilliker’s Dry Goods Store as a salesgirl, much to her family’s protest. According to Sister Jean’s book, her father agreed to allow her to work as long as “the gold in her pocket didn’t steal the gold away from her heart.”

On Nov. 1, 1869, the Carty patriarch died from heart trouble. Six short months later, his wife Ellen joined him. On her death bed, Ellen made Susan promise that she would weigh her responsibilities to her family well. Susan continued to work and raise the children left by her sister, Maria. But all the while, in her heart and mind, Susan began to think about her life’s purpose and how she could best serve God.

By 1873, Susan thoughts had turned to life in the convent. She recalled her younger years and how much she had admired the Sisters of Loretto. Susan spoke about wanting to become a nun with her sister Kitty, who quickly laughed. According to Sister Jean’s book, Kitty thought that Susan was too vain and concerned about having a good time to live a holy life. Susan’s brother, John, however, suggested she seek out Father McCaffery, the family priest, to ask his advice.

After mass one Sunday, Susan approached the family priest. Father McCaffery suggested that she think long and hard before making such an important decision, that life as a nun was not one of leisure. There would be many rules that she might not agree with that must be followed. There would be no husband and no children of her own. He also told Susan that she would no longer be the darling of the family and asked her if she could handle taking a back seat to others.

Over the years, Susan had been given more responsibility at the store: she now kept the books in addition to waiting on customers. Moreover, the store owner’s son made it clear that he wanted her to be his wife. But Susan’s thought of wanting to become a nun would not leave her. She was sure of one thing: “The only way to serve God is to serve others.” But who were the “others”?

In 1874, Susan traveled to Kentucky and the Motherhouse for the Sisters of Loretto to take her vows as a novice. First, however, Susan had to come up with her new Christian name. Sitting before the mistress of the novices, Susan went through a list of names that she preferred: Wilfrid, Henrietta, Mary Henry, Decarose. All were rejected by Mother Dafrosa who suggested rather firmly that Susan take the name of a Roman martyr who died for her beliefs. Susan was now to be known, much to her dislike, as Sister Praxedes.

On July 16, 1874, dressed in the blue habit and white veil of a novice, Sister Praxedes spoke her first vows dedicating her life to Christ and to the service of others.

It didn’t take long for Sister Praxedes to learn that the life of a novice was indeed very difficult. There were prayer times to be observed, floors to be swept, meals to be prepared, pots to be scrubbed, clothes to be washed and mended and gardens to be tended, all dictated by the chiming of the church bells. Of course, there was also homesickness to overcome, but it was the sickness in Sister Praxedes’ body that would change her life, as well as the future of the desert Southwest, forever.

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Shortly after joining the order of the Sisters of Loretto at the Foot of the Cross, Sister Praxedes fell ill. Even with bed rest and medicine, she just did not get better. Sister Praxedes had tuberculosis. The doctor’s recommendation was for her to move west, since it was thought in the late 1800s and early 1900s that a dry, hot climate would help tuberculars.

Loretto Chapel, Santa Fe NMSister Praxedes’ new assignment was in Santa Fe, N.M. According to the article “Mother Praxedes’ Deeds Left Imprint on EP Area,” published in the El Paso Times in June 1963, once in New Mexico, Sister Praxedes “became a character in one of the most historic events for New Mexico.” On June 16, 1875, Bishop Salpointe presented the Sacred Pallium to Bishop Jean-Baptiste Lamy, the first Archbishop of Santa Fe.

The pallium is an ancient vestment (dating as far back as the 6th century) conferred on new archbishops consisting of a band of cloth with six black crosses worn around the neck with pendants hanging down in the front and back. The pallium is worn as a symbol of obedience to the pope by the archbishop.

New Mexico held new challenges for Sister Praxedes, the biggest being that she knew no Spanish. Not only was that the spoken language of the locals, it was also the language in which all church services were conducted. Thanks to the love and assistance of Mother Magdalen, Mother Francisca and Archbishop Lamy, Sister Praxedes’ health and spirits soon improved. She also became fluent in Spanish. It was while still in Santa Fe that Sister Praxedes took her final vows to become a nun.

Image caption: Loretto Chapel, Santa Fe New Mexico. (Photo courtesy of John Phelan/Wikimedia Commons.)

In 1878, Sister Praxedes was given a new assignment and was sent to Bernalillo, N.M. There she accepted responsibility for educating young girls, remodeling St. Vincent’s Academy and planting gardens to make the order more self-sufficient and debt free. Her family background which forced each member to contribute to the well-being of others, as well as her business background gleaned from her days at Hilliker’s store, served her well when it came to financial matters.

In August 1880 shortly after ordering the lumber for their new porch in Bernalillo, Sister Praxedes traveled to Santa Fe for a spiritual retreat. On Aug. 24, she was called to the office of Mother Francisca. A major scandal was brewing in Las Cruces. A priest and a novice had renounced their vows, gotten married and stayed in the area. Sister Praxedes was ordered not to return to Bernalillo but to go to the Loretto Academy of the Visitation in Las Cruces, a school which had been founded in 1879. Mother Magdalen would accompany her.

Upon their arrival in Las Cruces about 2 a.m. after a grueling stagecoach ride, Mother Magdalen informed Sister Praxedes that she would be known as Mother Praxedes from now on. It would be her responsibility to finish the half-built academy that was $5,000 in debt as well as to restore the Order’s damaged reputation.

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The new Mother Superior quickly realized that most residents of Las Cruces were poor, but “through bazaars, fairs, sales, charging tuition, and bank loans she quickly set about liquidating the debt,” according to an exhibition on the history of the Sisters of Loretto in Las Cruces by Portia Vescio and Wendy C. Simpson, found in the Rio Grande Historical Collections, New Mexico State University (NMSU) Library Archives. The written comments also indicate that parents delinquent in paying their children’s tuition were forced to do so when Mother Praxedes took them to court. She was tough and she became skilled in raising money.

However, she also made the Order a part of the community by socializing with the residents and making the Academy self-sufficient. Vescio and Simpson in the above mentioned source in the NMSU archives mentioned that the Sisters of Loretto were sued by Eugene Van Patten, tax assessor for Las Cruces, because he believed that their land was being used to make a profit, when in actuality it was being cultivated as a vegetable garden for the nuns and their boarding students. It was Mother Praxedes who testified in court that the land helped feed the school’s poor students.

The school grew to the point that two wings were added, one designed by noted El Paso architect, Henry C. Trost. Loretto Academy would provide education for students in the Las Cruces area until it closed in 1943.

After making improvements to the land around the convent and school, Mother Praxedes helped raise money to restore St. Genevieve Church, originally built in the 1850s as an adobe building. It was replaced in 1886 by a brick building with twin bell towers, 44 feet high, built with money from local parishioners, including Colonel Van Patten. This church would serve Las Crucens until 1967, when it was torn down, and a new St. Genevieve’s church was built on South Espina Street. According to a 1963 El Paso Times article, when Mother Praxedes left Las Cruces 13 years after her arrival, she was “one of the most beloved leaders that community ha[d] ever known.”

In 1893, Mother Praxedes was reassigned to the Loretto Academy in Florissant, Mo. Then in 1894, she was sent to Loretto Heights Academy, an elementary and secondary school for girls, in Denver, Colo., established in 1890. According to an article published in the Southwest Catholic Register dated February 1962, it was Mother Praxedes’ “strong hand” that saved the academy from “being lost to the society, as a result of the financial panic sweeping the country in 1894.” She was determined that girls in the West would not be denied a Catholic education. The strong Irish girl had become a force to be reckoned with, even in the boardrooms of big financial institutions.

In 1896, Mother Praxedes was called back to the Motherhouse in Kentucky to fill the remaining two years of a four-year term of Mother Catherine, Superior General of the Loretto Society, who had been asked to resign, along with the Ecclesiastical General, Father Gambon, in a serious dispute over authority. Mother Praxedes was charged to unite the two factions in the Loretto Order, and through much hard work did so, being subsequently elected by the sisters to two full six-year terms, the maximum number of terms allowed for such a position.

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So successful and beloved was Mother Praxedes in this position of leadership that she was elected to two more six-year terms, after the sisters asked and were granted papal permission to do so. Mother Praxedes thus served as Superior General of the entire Loretto Order for an unprecedented 26 years.

Pius XMother Praxedes worked tirelessly for her Order. She traveled to Rome three times to petition Pope Pius X for approval of the constitution and rules of the Order, which had existed almost a century with only temporary approval, with a final Decree of Confirmation granted in 1907. During the influenza epidemic, she sent the Sisters of Loretto into some of the worst hit areas to provide nurses for the sick.

Image caption:  Pope Pius X taken between 1880-1900.  Library of Congress.  (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Mother Praxedes believed it was the Order’s duty to educate women and the poor, and that the buildings in which to do so also provided the opportunity to teach God’s truth.  She used her incredible mind for business to establish 51 Loretto Academies throughout the country, including two four-year colleges, “normal schools” for educating new teachers.

Her dreams of establishing higher education for young women became reality when she built Loretto College in Webster Groves (St. Louis), Mo., in 1916. It took the name Webster College in 1924 and was one of the first Catholic colleges for women west of the Mississippi. As all-male colleges began admitting women, Webster College began offering courses to men in 1962, and in 1967, the Catholic Church turned over ownership to a lay board of directors.

Today the college is known as Webster University, a private, non-profit, nondenominational international institution which offers graduate and undergraduate degrees in the U. S., Europe and Shanghai, China. Webster University also offers degrees to members of the military as they serve their country, including on our own Fort Bliss Campus.

Two years later in 1918 under the direction of Mother Praxedes, Loretto Heights Academy in Denver also became a women’s college, according to Carolyn Dunbar, editor of the Loretto Magazine. It was accredited in 1926. Although it educated thousands of young women for 70 years, financial difficulties mounted and this Loretto college was turned over to Regis University in 1988, which in turn sold it to Teikyo University Group in Japan. In 2009, the school, built at the highest point of the city, with the original building constructed of red sandstone, changed its name to Colorado Heights University.

Mother Praxedes also planned the first foreign mission of the Loretto Society — to China. Nuns worked there from 1922 to 1951, when one was martyred and the Lorettines were expelled by the communists.

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Throughout her years as Superior General, Mother Praxedes never lost her love for the desert Southwest. After finally retiring her position as Superior General in 1922, Mother Praxedes came to El Paso as the local superior to help plan, fund and build the Loretto Academy. The great multi-tasker had to work, even in “retirement.” 

Despite financial hardships, the building of the Loretto academy proceeded. Rejecting the original suggestion of building Loretto in Golden Hill Terrace, close to present day “Pill Hill” in the Sierra Medical District, Mother Praxedes chose 19-1/2 acres of land far outside the city limits in an area called Austin Terrace. Rather than build one part of the school at a time, she chose to build the entire shell of the school, designed by Gustavus Adolphus Trost, brother of Henry C. Trost, who together had established a highly successful architectural firm in El Paso.

Mother Praxedes believed the school was more likely to be completed if the entire framework existed, and she proved to be correct. However, at the time, some people called it “Praxedes’ Folly.”  After all, it was six miles from the town’s center, there was no transportation to the area and education for girls was not a priority, except to Mother Praxedes.

Dena Hirsch wrote that the convent building was completed first, called Praxedes Hall, where both the nuns and boarding students lived and where classes were taught as well, beginning in September 1923. It would take 14 years for the chapel and the academy to be finished.

Loretto Academy, El PasoIn March 1924, building of the chapel began. This was the middle building, with the convent and academy forming the wings. Hirsch described the trio of buildings “like a human figure who holds out her arms as if to embrace the cities of El Paso and Juárez spread at her feet.” Indeed, Mother Praxedes had wanted the school to overlook both cities, just as she wanted the school to offer a Christian education to the young women of both the United States and Mexico. The one-story chapel features a high, peaked roof which makes it dominate over the two wings, although they are three stories high. Hirsch wrote that the ten arched windows are of “pink and light green marbleized stained glass.”

Image caption:  The Loretto Chapel stands between the two “wings” of the former convent and the academy. (Photo by Isabel Hernandez)

The Great Depression hit the country, and in an effort to gain further funding for the new school, Mother Praxedes traveled back to St. Louis in 1931 to secure an $80,000 loan. While there, she fell and broke her hip, and although she was able to return to El Paso, she now had to oversee the construction from her bed — and for two years, she did. On December 16, 1933, Mother Praxedes died in the convent at Loretto.

In an article published by the El Paso Times on Feb. 20, 2012, Sister Mary E. Boesen, Loretto Academy’s current president, wrote that “Loretto Academy is proof of her [Mother Praxedes’] breadth of vision and building genius.”

Thanks to Mother Praxedes’ belief that serving God meant serving others, probably no one woman has ever done more to influence the parochial education of girls here in the borderland. The pioneer nun was inducted into the El Paso County Historical Society Hall of Honor in 2001.

The words of Father J. Garde, spoken at her Requiem Mass and reprinted in the aforementioned El Paso Times article, remind us of her wisdom and foresight: “Her chosen field was education and she was one of the finest souls to see the necessity of higher education for women. How wisely she planned and how well she executed these plans will be attested to long after our day by the finished product which will be scattered throughout the west and the world.”

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Women in El Paso Sources

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