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Thursday, August 05, 2010

WOMEN & SPIRIT: Catholic Sisters in America

Benedictine Sisters anticipate the completion of St Anthony’s Hospital in Bemidji, Minnesota in 1900. Before workers’ compensation was mandated by law most laborers went without coverage. The sisters made healthcare affordable by selling “Lumberjack Tickets” (from $1.00 - $9.00) and guaranteed medical care in Benedictine hospitals.

Six Sisters of Mary of the Presentation (pictured) took part in a great European migration, arriving from France to North Dakota in 1902, to offer aid to immigrants to the USA

In the United Kingdom it is difficult to appreciate the enormous contribution made by nuns to the America`s social and cultural landscape.

Since first arriving in America nearly 300 years ago, sisters built schools, colleges, hospitals, orphanages, homeless shelters, and many other enduring social institutions.

As nurses, teachers, and social workers, sisters entered professional ranks decades earlier than most other women and established landmark institutions that continue to serve millions of Americans from all walks of life

"Women and Spirit" is a fascinating exhibition on the massive contribution made by Nuns to Catholic America

Amongst the facts cited are:

The St. Joseph infant incubator was developed by Sr. Pulcheria Wuellner

The first medical license given to a woman in New Mexico was Sr. Mary de Sales Leheney.

In 2005, approximately one in six hospital patients in the U.S. were treated in a Catholic facility.

During the Civil War, the Sisters of the Holy Cross staffed the first U.S. Navy hospital ship, the USS Red Rover.

More than 600 sisters from twenty-one different religious communities nursed both Union and Confederate soldiers alike during the Civil War.

In the founding days of Alcoholics Anonymous, Sister Ignatia Gavin of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine successfully advocated that alcoholism should be treated as a medical condition.

Catholic sisters established the nation’s largest private school system, educating millions of young Americans.

More than 110 U.S. colleges and universities were founded by Catholic sisters.

Since 1980, at least nine American sisters have been martyred while working for social justice and human rights overseas