On Sunday, I visited the Women & Spirit Exhibit at the Center for History in South Bend, Indiana. “WOMEN & SPIRIT: Catholic Sisters in America” is a traveling exhibit sponsored by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), designed to “reveal the mystery behind a small group of innovative American women who helped shape the nation’s social and cultural landscape.”
Although I had heard great things about the exhibit, I was not prepared for its powerful impact. As a Sister, I know the history of our community, and of the other Benedictines in America. I listened to all 18 lectures from Margaret Susan Thompson’s courseHistory of US Women Religious. It’s one thing to know history. It’s another to be surrounded by the words and pictures of those who lived it, to see the cradle that the Sisters of the New York Foundling Hospital left outside their door so that – day or night – there was someplace safe to leave a baby.
The Duluth Benedictines are part of the exhibit – not only our name on the immense list of women’s orders active in the US, but in a photo of Sister Amata Mackett, who traveled to the lumberjack camps in the cold northern Minnesota winters to care for the spiritual and practical needs of the workers – and to sell tickets good for one year of medical care at any of the hospitals sponsored by the community.
The YouTube video below shows parts of the exhibits – and the reactions of some visitors. It will be in South Bend through December 31 before going to its last location in California. If you are within driving distance, I encourage you to see the exhibit: it is definitely worth while.
- The fading presence of sisters in Catholic hospitals (commonwealmagazine.org)
- Documentary Reveals Life of Cloistered Benedictines (zenit.org)