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Maryknoll Sisters Cap Year-Long Celebration of Foundress’ Life

Mother Mary Joseph Rogers hailed as visionary
who contribured to the role of women in overseas mission

MARYKNOLL, N.Y. – Maryknoll Sisters will bring to a close a year of celebration of the 50th anniversary of the death of their foundress with ceremonies to be held Sunday, October 8, 2006. The year-long event began with a candlelight prayer service and procession last October 9th.

Mother Mary Joseph, foundress of the Maryknoll Sisters, would be pleased if she could witness the fruits of her efforts in promoting overseas mission work, according to Sister Suzanne Moore, M.M., president of the Sisters’ Congregation.

“We went as women from the U.S., Canada and a few other countries, and brought with us our own backgrounds. We were able to bring to people not only caring but also professional expertise that was not available at that time in the countries we served, in the fields of medicine, education, religious instruction and social services.”

The Maryknoll Congregation was the first group of Catholic sisters in the U.S. to devote their lives to mission service overseas.

In 1912, Mary Josephine Rogers directed a small group of women who offered their secretarial and editorial services to a fledgling mission organization, under the guidance of Father James Anthony Walsh, co-founder of the Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America, commonly known as Maryknoll.

In 1920, the 35 sisters were recognized as a diocesan religious congregation, The Foreign Mission Sisters of St. Dominic. Five years later, Sister Mary Joseph was elected Mother General, a position she held until her retirement in 1946.

By that time the Congregation’s membership had grown to more than 700 sisters working in Asia and Latin America, as well as with minority groups in the United States. Eventually the Sisters’ mission work extended into Africa and the Pacific Islands.

Today the Maryknoll Sisters number nearly 600 from 22 nations and serve in 30 countries worldwide.

Sister Virginia Flagg, who joined the congregation in 1930, was ten years old when she met the woman who would later send Flagg on mission work to China as a Maryknoll Sister.

“She had an impact that lasts even until now,” said Flagg, who reflected on Mother Mary Joseph’s informal style.

“She was a wholesome and human woman who liked to have a good time and play cards. When we’d sit on the porch at night she would encourage us to take off our veils and let the wind blow through our hair. She didn’t think we should have to be uncomfortable just for the sake of being uncomfortable.”

Sister Madeline Maria Dorsey recalls one of Mother Mary Joseph’s most noteworthy attributes– the ability to size up a person within moments of meeting them.

“She found strengths in people they themselves would never have thought of. In my case, it was that I would make a good nurse in mission,” said Dorsey.

“She was just an extraordinary gift of God, not only to Maryknoll but also religious women in the U.S. and mission.”

As the year of celebration comes to an end, Moore reflected upon Mother Mary Joseph’s legacy as foundress of the Maryknoll Sisters, and the Congregation’s commitment to overseas mission.

“The Congregation and the world are blessed by her contributions.”

Source: Catholic PR Wire

Learn more about Mother Mary Joseph Rogers

In 1920, the 35 sisters were recognized as a diocesan religious congregation, The Foreign Mission Sisters of St. Dominic.

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Since the time of St Dominic, more than 800 years ago, Dominicans have been living and sharing
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