Loretta Watz’s Ties to Parish Go Back 66 Years
GLENDALE — Loretta Watz is an example of the kind of devout Catholic who is the backbone of the Diocese of Brooklyn — the parishioners who faithfully attend Mass every week and whose lives are centered around their church.
In Watz’s case, that would be St. Pancras Church, Glendale, where she has been a parishioner her entire life.
Born Loretta Herbst, she was baptized in St. Pancras in 1954 and received her First Holy Communion when she was a second-grader at St. Pancras School. Her Confirmation followed a few years later.
She married her husband Andrew Watz in St. Pancras in 1975. Andrew, a retired special agent for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, is an usher at the church and their two children, Kevin and Jessica, were baptized there.
On Sundays, you’ll find Loretta Watz at her usual Mass, the 8 a.m., sitting in her usual pew.
“I always sit in the back of the church, in case I have to make a quick getaway!” she told The Tablet with a laugh.
While she jokes about her seating arrangement, she is serious about her faith and her belief in the importance of attending Mass.
“It’s only an hour a week. The church offers so many different Masses at different times. If you want to, you’ll find a way to go,” she said.
When Loretta Herbst was growing up in Glendale in the 1950s and 1960s, it was largely a German and Irish neighborhood. Herbst “is a common German name,” she said. Today, the neighborhood boasts a mixture of nationalities and ethnicities — Hispanic and Asian.
Her mother, Charlotte Herbst, was raised in the Lutheran Church and converted to Catholicism when she married Loretta’s father, Raymond Herbst. “She was a converted Catholic but she was a great Catholic. She taught us the faith at home and she made sure we all went to church together,” she said.
Ironically, given her devotion to St. Pancras Church, Loretta Herbst became a parishioner there only through a quirk of fate.
“My parents lived on 70th Street. Then my mother and her father bought a house together on 62nd Street. It was the last block in St. Pancras’ parish. If you crossed the street, you were in St. Matthias. The churches were strict back then with their boundaries,” Herbst told The Tablet.
St. Pancras Church, which was renovated approximately 25 years ago, looks pretty much the same as it did when Loretta Watz was young. “It’s a big church. And it’s beautiful,” she said.
Both of her children went to St. Pancras School. “It was a struggle to put my kids through Catholic school. It was worth it. I was happy with the choices my husband and I made,” she said. St. Pancras School closed in 2018.
Loretta Watz worked as a receptionist at Sacred Heart Catholic Academy in Glendale for many years before recently retiring.
She has remained steadfast in her Catholic faith even during devastating times. In 2010, she was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. At the time, her husband was in the midst of his own battle with colon cancer.
She recalled feeling something was wrong when she was sitting in the waiting room during one of her husband’s visits to the doctor. She asked the receptionist if there were any doctors in the office specializing in breast health and made an appointment right then and there for a check-up.
Her diagnosis was a big blow to the couple — they had to undergo cancer treatments at the same time.
She credited a group of her friends who recited the Rosary with her every night with helping her get through her cancer treatments.
Through the cancer ordeal, the Watz family never stopped going to church. Today, they are feeling healthy and fit.
“There was a silver lining,” Loretta Watz said. “We went through it together.”