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Women of the Hall

Year Honored: 2013
Birth: 1882 - Death: 1955
Born In: Massachusetts,
Died In: New York,
Achievements: Humanities
Educated In: Massachusetts
Schools Attended: Boston Public Schools, Smith College, Boston Normal School
Worked In: Massachusetts, New York, Illinois, California, Missouri, Asia

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Mother Mary Joseph Rogers, MM

A woman of extraordinary vision and drive, Mother Mary Joseph Rogers, MM, founded the Maryknoll Sisters, the first United States based Catholic congregation of religious women dedicated to a global mission.

The fourth of eight children, Mary Josephine “Mollie” Rogers was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts to Irish Catholic parents.  She attended public schools in Boston, and later studied Zoology at Smith College, graduating in 1905.

While studying at Smith, Rogers became inspired by graduating Protestant students who were soon leaving for missionary work in China.  Following her graduation, she worked as an assistant in the Biology Department for two years and then taught in Boston’s public schools.  Shortly thereafter, Rogers returned to Smith and started a mission club for Catholic students.  While organizing the club, she met Father James A. Walsh, director of Boston’s Office for the Propagation of the Faith.  Father Walsh was launching a mission magazine in which Rogers took immediate interest and volunteered her time to assist with production.

Nearly a decade later, Father Walsh co-founded Maryknoll Fathers & Brothers, and Rogers was selected as one of the “secretaries” to direct the group under his guidance.  Rogers took the religious name Mother Mary Joseph and oversaw the growth of the congregation and its expansion into mission.  In 1920, the group became recognized as the Maryknoll Sisters, a mission society of women that ministers to the humanitarian needs of all people, especially the poor, regardless of race, creed or color.  While leading the mission, Mother Mary Joseph welcomed women from all nations, stressed the need for sisters to be compassionate women, and took care to integrate prayer with apostolic ministry.

Mother Mary Joseph was awarded honorary doctorates from Smith College, Trinity University and Regis College, Boston.  By the time of her death in 1955, there were 1,065 sisters working in twenty countries and several cities in the United States.  The Maryknoll Sisters became a Pontifical Institute in 1954 and the name of the Congregation was changed to Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic.

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