Nerinx, KY
United States
Loretto Motherhouse, 515 Nerinx Rd., hill crest Loretto AIDS Memorial Garden since 16 April 1995
5 names
The Loretto AIDS Garden is planted with perennials and plants native to the Midwest; it has large stones gathered from creeks in the area; the stones have the names of those buried there. The entrance stone reads,
This garden is dedicated to those who have died of AIDS.
"Out of your smile will bloom a flower,
and those who love you will behold you
across ten thousand worlds of birth and dying"
Thich Nhat Hanh
When Mary Ann McGivern’s brothers died of complications from AIDS in 1986 and 1988, she asked her religious community, the Sisters of Loretto, if their ashes could be buried in our cemetery in central Kentucky at the Loretto Motherhouse near Bardstown. Mary Louise Denny’s brother Joe died from AIDS in 1994 and she asked his partner who was a landscape architect to design a garden at Loretto where Joe’s ashes would be buried. Her whole family came for the service on Easter Sunday, 1995. Mary Jean Friel’s step-son died from AIDS that year and his ashes were buried in the garden the next summer during a Loretto Assembly. Thus AIDS became visible to our sisters and co-members, to the men and women who work at the Motherhouse and to families in central Kentucky. People in the local towns now knew that the sisters too had family living with AIDS and were not keeping it secret.
Of course AIDS is not a gay disease, and yet the garden opened the lips of other sisters and co-members to talk openly about same sex relationships. It helped everyone to talk about family joy and suffering.
More ashes have been laid in the AIDS garden and it has become a place of peace. Community members visit the AIDS garden daily, as they visit the cemetery.

Loretto Community Motherhouse