Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Year is 1947

and like most Catholic dioceses in the US, I suppose, the Erie diocese gave out an annual recognition to "The Catholic Family of the Year." That year the award was given to the Albert Lorei family of St.Boniface Parish. The family worked a farm in the rural community of Hammett, just south of the city of Erie and even today this small community maintains its rural heritage.

Their second son would be ordained to the priesthood within weeks of the family recognition; two of the oldest daughters were already in religious communities: one a Sister of St. Joseph and one a Benedictine. The parents were active in their parish and sent all 12 of their children to the parish school and local Catholic high schools. All of that contributed to their nomination as family of the year.

I never met any Loreis until I was a teacher. I taught a number of the girls in the next generation, both of this family and of cousins, but they continued to be a longtime backbone of the Catholic Church in Erie, not just the three in religion, but as active and committed lay men and women in the parishes.

This week they, and our community, lost an original member of this 1947 family, Sister Bernadette (see full obit here). About 1/2 of the original dozen are gone now, the other 1/2 no doubt carrying on a life of good works, as they all seem to have done for decades.

We still have a few sisters from families of 10, 12 or even 14 children, but they are getting fewer and belong to an age that is pre-1960s. Having come from a family with just three, the very idea of such size is amazing to me. However, their stories and family lore are fascinating--as is the expansion of the original siblings into dozens and dozens of nephews, nieces and grands. I'm sure the Loreis will grace us with many of their memories next week as we celebrate Sister Bernadette's life.