Kentucky State trooper Jerry Critchelow and his wife, Gail, came to Beaver Dam in 1986 and quickly became friends with Sister Luisa. When she moved to Horse Branch in 1987, Trooper Critchelow was concerned for her safety.
“I was worried about her safety in that rural part of the county. But then I learned that the people there had quickly embraced her for what she did for the rural part of the county, and I didn’t have to worry about her anymore. Sometimes when I stop a Hispanic driver for a minor traffic violation, he might be quite upset and worried since he is having a problem communicating with me about it. I’ve learned that I just have to mention Sister Luisa and he smiles, relaxes and knows everything’s going to be all right. It’s obvious, she’s really special to them.”
Secretary-treasurer Black adds, “When Sister Luisa first came here and went to work with people most in need, I thought they were going to chew her up and spit her out…because she was so sweet, so nice, so accepting of everyone. But I found out her experiences in Chile were similar, and she handled everything in a very professional and caring manner and has done so all these years. She showed them ways to make money such as collecting aluminum cans. She always encourages everyone to better themselves.”
She added, “I still think anyone in this parish would do anything for Sister Luisa.”
Bob and Francil Higdon are longtime friends and supporters of Sister Luisa. Says Francil, “Sister is such a good and holy woman who has made herself well known in a very positive way for over 20 years throughout Ohio County.”
Gail Critchelow is the religious education coordinator at Holy Redeemer. “Sister Luisa helped get the Hispanic kids here for our religious education classes,” says Gail. “We couldn’t have done it without her.” She continued, “Catholics are in the minority here, but everyone in the county knows Sister Luisa. That shows how she’s been involved in caring for the whole county, not just for the church.”
Glenmary brother David Henley is a student at Brescia University and assists Sister Luisa with translating tasks and transporting Hispanic youths in Ohio County. Father David enjoys his work with Sister Luisa. He says, “She is my wisdom figure. We communicate regularly to coordinate the services we provide to the community.”
A major accomplishment during Sister Luisa’s long ministry at Horse Branch was the construction of the Saint Francis Community Center. After Sister Luisa led a campaign for human development to get the center built, land was purchased at a bargain price from a former resident now living in Texas – Bobby Wallace – and the multi-purpose facility became a reality.
“The center means a tremendous amount to this area,” says Gail Raley of Horse Branch, a center volunteer. “Besides serving senior dinners, it’s the only place in the area for wedding receptions, birthday parties, family reunions, any type of get-togethers for which we never had a facility before. I think it’s great.”
Gail is also a member of the local quilt club that meets weekly at the center. She has kind words for Sister Luisa. “I think Sister Luisa means a lot to this area because anyone can go to her if they need anything and they know she will try her best to help them for any reason – a meal, a ride, anything – she’s there.”