Sisters of Loretto

Recommittal Memorial Mass

at Mt. Olivet Catholic Cemetery

Recommittal Memorial Mass | August 22, 2022

Biographies of the 62 Sisters of Loretto

Loretto Heights Cemetery Transfer to Mt. Olivet Catholic Cemetery


Due to the impending redevelopment of the property adjacent to Loretto Heights Cemetery for residential and business use and in the interest of the long-term security and perpetual care of their deceased community members, the Sisters of Loretto decided to disinter the remains of the 62 Sisters buried at Loretto Heights Cemetery and have them transferred to Mt. Olivet Catholic Cemetery to be interred next to their community members that are already buried there. This very special and sacred undertaking is scheduled to begin in June 2022.

For more information about this undertaking, please see our Fact Sheet.

A Brief History of the Sisters of Loretto of Denver


The Sisters of Loretto were originally founded by Mary Rhodes, Ann Havern, and Christina Stuart who began by teaching the children of the Kentucky frontier. When they decided to form a Religious community, they turned to Father Charles Nerinckx, a Belgian missionary priest who served the area, for his advice and assistance in writing their rule of life and seeking ecclesiastical approval for their new community. Founded in 1812 as Friends of Mary at the Foot of the Cross, the first Sisters dedicated their lives to God as religious women and educated poor children of the area. They later took the name Sisters of Loretto at the Foot of the Cross.

When the Colorado Territory was formed in 1861, a key necessity was missing in Denver: stable educational opportunities for the children of families new to the frontier. In 1864, three courageous and selfless Sisters of Loretto, Ignacia Mora, Beatrice Maes Torres, and Johanna Walsh traveled by mail coach to Denver from their home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, at the request of Bishop Machebeuf who wanted to start a Catholic school in Denver. When the Sisters arrived in Denver, they were the first Religious Order of Catholic Sisters to come to Colorado. They opened St. Mary’s Academy on August 1, 1864 which is still in operation today. In all, the Sisters of Loretto opened 27 schools in Colorado.

In 1891, led by Mother Pancratia Bonfils, the Sisters of Loretto founded Loretto Heights Academy in Denver, a Catholic elementary and secondary school for girls. The Sisters established Loretto Heights Cemetery adjacent to the school grounds as a sacred burial place for their deceased community members in Denver. Previously, the Sisters’ deceased community members were buried at Mt. Calvary Cemetery in Denver. The first burial at Loretto Heights Cemetery was in 1898. The remains of the eleven Sisters that were originally buried at Mt. Calvary Cemetery were transferred and interred at Loretto Heights Cemetery in 1912, the centennial year of the foundation of the Sisters of Loretto. The last burial took place in 1969. Thereafter, the Sisters buried their deceased community members at Mt. Olivet Catholic Cemetery in Wheat Ridge, the official cemetery of the Archdiocese of Denver.

In 1918, Loretto Heights Academy became Loretto Heights College and continued until 1989 when the 70-acre campus was deeded to Regis College. Teikyo University purchased the college that same year and, later, in 2018, sold the property to a real estate development company.

Due to the impending redevelopment of the property adjacent to Loretto Heights Cemetery for residential and business use and in the interest of the long-term security and perpetual care of their deceased community members, the Sisters of Loretto decided to disinter the remains of the 62 Sisters buried at Loretto Heights Cemetery and have them transferred to Mt. Olivet Catholic Cemetery to be interred next to their community members that are already buried there. This very special and sacred undertaking is scheduled to begin in June 2022 and we will chronical the transfer in a special documentary video.


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