Monday, June 11, 2012
Sister Martha Ann Koch
The Sisters of Loretto who taught for many years at Holy Family School in North Denver at 43rd and Utica Street, where Arupe Jesuit School is now, celebrate their 200th birthday this year. I want to help them celebrate. We lost a venerable member of the Loretto order, Sr. Martha Ann Koch, S. L., died peacefully at the mother house in Nerinkx, Kentucky. Sister Martha Ann taught me in seventh grade at Holy Family. Let me share two memories. We went to mass on Friday mornings and I remember in late May filing into the church. A May morning mist covered what small bits of grass covered the parking and those gray moths we have here were on the wing. In the first pew, two rows ahead of me, knelt a glimmering Grace Kelly who was rehearsing for a play at Elitch summer stock. I recall an dappled apple colored scarf encircled her golden locks like a newly minted halo. My fellow students told me I did not hear Sr. Martha click her cricket clacker which all the nuns concealed some where in the dark folds of their habits. One click meant to kneel. I confess, I did not hear the click. Every one else knelt in unison, but I stayed standing transfixed as though I was beholding a heavenly vision in Miss Kelly. Sr. Martha Ann came up the right aisle and nudged me saying, "Dennis Gallagher, you can kneel down now and concentrate on the mass please." Miss Kelly looked back at me. Her eyes flashed blue, the sacre bleu, like the blue in Mary's garment in the side altar. Miss Kelly left right after communion, probably off to rehearsal. And before she disappeared out the right side door, she turned back and smiled and winked at me and I swear she whispered, "Thank you, Dennis." She must have heard Sr. Martha's instructions about kneeling. I was always thankful to Sr. Martha for introducing me to Grace Kelly when I was in the seventh grade. Remember a few years back when I promised the people of Denver I would report on the city debt? So I relied on the CPA's who worked at the Auditor's Office to get me the figure. I thought the figure they brought to me was low, but I had been told, "you always listen to your CPA's?" I reported the debt and the figure was only off by about 10 billion dollars. You remember the papers had a field day. Headlines roared about the auditor's lost decimal point. Mine enemies chapped their lips. I walked in the valley of the shadows of those shunned. But raising my spirits from out of the depths, as in the psalm, "De profundis, clamavi ad te, Domine." Sr. Martha wrote me and said she remembered I always had trouble with those "pesky decimal points." And she added with her great humor: "but Dennis, with a 10 billion dollar mistake, shouldn't you be working for the federal government?" But not to worry she closed. Sr. Martha reminded me she "was praying for me. You will make it through this stronger than before." I hope we will celebrate Sr. Martha Ann's wonderful life of service and accomplishment on Tuesday, June 19th at the Loretto Center Chapel, 4500 South Wadsworth, 7 pm. Now Sr. Martha is praying for us all.