The funeral Mass for Loretto Sister Elizabeth Ann Compton was celebrated May 7 at the Church of the Seven Dolors on the grounds of Loretto Motherhouse in Nerinx, Ky. Sister Elizabeth Ann died May 5 at Loretto Motherhouse Infirmary. She was 88 and had been a Sister of Loretto at the Foot of the Cross for 69 years. An accomplished singer and storyteller, she taught music and ministered with older adults and children, serving for more than four decades in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
Born Aug. 28, 1929, in St. Louis, she was educated in four Catholic grade schools: Our Lady of Sorrows (kindergarten), Blessed Sacrament (1-2) St. Ann in Normandy (3-6) and St. Peter in Kirkwood (7-8). At the age of 9, she began voice lessons at Webster College in Webster Groves. Singing was “the greatest joy of my life,” she once wrote. She attended Nerinx Hall in Webster Groves, graduating in 1947.
She entered the Sisters of Loretto in 1949 and was received into the congregation Dec. 8 of that same year. Sister Elizabeth Ann made first vows Dec. 8, 1951, and final vows Aug. 15, 1955. She earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from Webster College in 1954, majoring in voice and minoring in education.
She taught in St. Louis, Kansas City and Englewood, Colo. In the Archdiocese of St. Louis, she taught music while attending Webster College from 1953-54, then taught at Nerinx Hall from 1954-59. Sister Elizabeth Ann taught music at St. Pius V School in St. Louis from 1976-80, during which time she also served as co-director of activities at Lafayette Retirement Center in St. Louis. She then was assistant of Community Life at Lafayette from 1980-83. While continuing to reside in St. Louis, for the next four years she served as a Loretto staff member working in the Community Life’s holistic health division. She ministered to the aging in St. Louis from 1984-89.
In 1989, at the age of 60, Sister Elizabeth Ann began storytelling, a gift she would share with others the rest of her life. She was a member of the Gateway Storytellers and of the Missouri group MO-TELL, performing at festivals, schools, libraries, churches and senior centers. She told stories while assisting in adult daycare at Cardinal Ritter Institute from 1990 to 1995 and as program director for Gleason Hall of Nazareth Living Center from 1995 to October 2000. In 1999, she was named one of the top 20 storytellers at the Storytellers Festival, which took place at the Gateway Arch.
In the fall of 2000, Sister Elizabeth Ann was appointed co-coordinator of Loretto Center in Webster Groves, serving in this role until 2002. For the next several years, she continued practicing her storytelling craft, assisted Loretto Sisters as a driver and volunteered at Cardinal Glennon Hospital, reading to the children there. In January 2017, she moved to Loretto Motherhouse Infirmary, where she carried out a ministry of prayer, presence and storytelling until her death.
“Joining the Loretto congregation was the best decision I ever made,” she wrote in her autobiography. “There have been a few ups and downs, certainly, but nothing I could not handle. My life in Loretto has been so blessed; I would not trade it for any other vocation.”
Sister Elizabeth Ann is survived by a brother, Tom.