Pope Francis has declared 2015 the year dedicated to Consecrated Life. CSA has proclaimed a day of welcome with an open house at our motherhouse in Fond du Lac, WI, on February 8.
I thought it would be a time to remember a few of those women who paved the way for the future of the Church in the United States with courage, commitment, and tenacity!
Source: Called to Serve (A History of Nuns in America) by Margaret M. McGinness
Approximately 1840 ~ (Archbishop of Indianapolis and Sisters of Providence)
“Bishop Hailandière’s strong opinions on the way the Sisters of Providence should live and work did not always coincide with those of Mother Theodore. He challenged her authority on numerous occasions, and opened two convents while she was in France that he expected to fall outside her jurisdiction. Because sisters living in those residences would be under his authority rather than Mother Theodore, the community would be divided into two, but the sisters themselves refused to live in those convents established by the bishop. The relationship between Hailandière and Mother Theodore grew from bad to worse as the bishop demanded complete authority over the community. During one particularly contentious disagreement in 1847, the superior was locked in the bishop’s residence until she agreed to carry out his orders. A day later, Mother Theodore was removed ‘as superior, released . . . from religious vows,’ and those sisters who agreed with her were threatened with excommunication.”
“Hard work combined with extreme poverty created difficult situations for women religious. When several Pittsburgh Sisters of Mercy accepted an invitation to minister in Chicago, their new convent was a small, one story, unpainted building in poor condition. The poverty faced by the women was ‘extreme and they often had to depend on the generosity of the people for mere necessities.” The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, according to community legend, usually walked barefoot to church to save wear and tear on a valuable commodity, putting their shoes on before entering the building.”
Angels of the Battlefield
“When the Civil War broke out in 1861, women religious were staffing or administering about thirty hospitals in the United States. As a result, they were already trained to provide much needed nursing care to soldiers from both the Union and Confederate camps. . . Medical and army officers specifically requested sisters to tend to the wounded. Some doctors had worked with nursing sisters before enlisting in the war effort and admired their ability and work ethic, and those who had not came to respect the knowledge and skills of those women with whom they came in contact. As they cared for the wounded and dying, women religious usually agreed to work wherever and whenever necessary, even if it meant laboring in dangerous and sometimes hostile territory. Their duties included housekeeping, cooking, personal care, distributing food and medicine, assisting in surgery, supervising hospital wards, and ministering on the battlefield. In short, they were willing to perform any task necessary to ease the suffering of the wounded and the work of military physicians.”
Artist: Jerome Connor