The Oakfords Visit the "Women & Spirit" Exhibit
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Sr. Jodi Min in Oakford Sisters

By:  Sr. Anna Oven
On Sunday, August 15th, Sisters Gabriella, Teresita, and I thoroughly enjoyed the national traveling exhibit, “Women and Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America”, hosted at Mount St. Mary’s College in Los Angeles.  As we walked through the exhibit for three hours, we experienced a sense of reverence in the telling of the real story of women religious who have played such a key role in the shaping of our nation.  It is a story of schools, hospitals, orphanages, and homeless shelters.  The Sisters made courageous new beginnings with practically nothing, trusting in Divine Providence, and putting themselves to the task which was needed to be done for the needs of the people around them.  One cannot help but be deeply moved by the dedication, self-giving, and at times, the risking of their lives for the Gospel. 

Sponsored by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), “Women & Spirit” tells the 300-year history of Sisters in America through rare artifacts, documents, photos and videos that honor these women of action, justice, and faith.  The exhibit was created to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the LCWR.

One part of the exhibit expresses the invitation by the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Aberdeen, South Dakota, to young women considering a call to religious life and service.  Mother M. John Hughes (1831 – 1877) writes,

“We offer you no salary; no recompense, no holidays,
no pensions, but much hard work; a poor dwelling,
few consolations; many disappointments; frequent sickness;
a violent or lonely death.”

Included in the exhibit are letters from Presidents Lincoln and Jefferson; President Jefferson’s correspondence with the Ursuline Sisters in New Orleans “is the earliest presidential interpretation of the guarantee of religious freedom protected by our country’s founding documents” says Sr. Karen Kennelly, CSJ, former president of Mount St. Mary’s College .

Sr. Gabriella found out that her great-grandmother was the housekeeper for the Sisters of Providence at St. Mary of the Woods, Terra Haute, Indiana!

One is moved to tears to view the video of the heroic Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word who died with the orphans they were caring for, during a sea storm in Galvaston, Texas in 1900.

The exhibit is a powerful tribute to those who have gone before us.  They have left us a legacy of faith, determination, courage, and trust in God.  What a challenge and call to us in our times, to do the work of preaching the Gospel wherever we are sent.

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