Mollie Rogers Inducted into Women’s Hall of Fame

Sister Mary Joseph
Sister Mary Joseph

By Patricia Harty, Editor-in-Chief
October / November 2013

Mother Mary Joseph, the founder of the Maryknoll sisters, is one of nine women who will be inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame this October.

Last year, 2012, marked the 100th anniversary of the Maryknoll sisters, so it’s an appropriate time to highlight the work of Mother Mary Joseph, or Mollie Rogers, as she was known prior to joining religious life.

Mollie was raised in an Irish Catholic family in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, went to public schools and later attended Smith College in Northampton, MA, where she earned her bachelor’s degree.

The Maryknoll Sisters were the first group of Catholic Sisters in the United States founded specifically for overseas missions, and they established hospitals and schools all over the world.

Some of the schools the sisters founded are Maryknoll Convent School in Kowloon, Hong Kong; Holy Spirit School (later Maryknoll Sisters’ School, now Marymount Secondary School) in Happy Valley, Hong Kong; Maryknoll College (now Miriam College) in Quezon City, Philippines; and the Maryknoll Academy (now Maryhill College) in Lucena City, Philippines.

The Maryknoll nuns also worked with marginalized groups in the United States. In 1955, almost a decade before passage of the Civil Rights Act, the Sisters founded Queen of the World Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, the first integrated hospital in America where African-American doctors and nurses worked side-by-side with white doctors and nurses to care for patients of all races.

“We are thrilled by Mother Mary Joseph’s selection,” said Sister Janice McLaughlin, president of the Maryknoll Sisters, “and happy for the recognition it brings to our founder who achieved so much, not only for women religious, but for all American women. She proved that women were equal to the demands of life and ministry abroad, particularly in places where poverty, physical hardship and sometimes, even safety during wartime were commonplace.”

Mary Joseph died in 1955, but she left behind a great legacy. Today the Maryknoll Sisters have approximately 500 members from 18 nations serving in 25 countries worldwide.

The National Women’s Hall of Fame was founded in 1969 and is located in Seneca, New York.

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