Tuesday, March 8, 2011

International Women's Day

Today, March 8, is International Women's Day. In the picture above some of our Sisters and a few friends of ours got together for Noon Prayer and lunch to celebrate this international recognition of women on its 100th anniversary. I was only the photographer and not privy to their conversation but my suspicion is that their conversation went from rejoicing at the many inovative ways that women have taken their place in society to some sadness that there are still too many women who are disenfranchised.

Women have taken giant steps in the fields of science, medicine, and politics, to name just a few. Of course that is in the developed world, the northern hemisphere more particularly, but what about the millions of women who try to stand up for justice and peace in so many troubled nations of our world and are raped, attacked or assassinated by machine gun in the streets of their cities as happened on the Ivory Coast about one week ago? We have a long way to go to make the world safe and where everyone, not only women but men and children, can live in freedom and peace.

This day got me thinking of all the women in the last 154 years who have been part of this community and the many ways they have left their mark in Minnesota and beyond. In a short blog it is not possible to list the many accomplishments of these women but let me name a few anyway: the six sisters who went to China in 1930 and from whom we had no news for five years, the bold women who envisoned what is now the St. Cloud Hospital, built it and were left with a two million dollar debt that took a generation to pay back; I have wondered many times if Mother Louise Walz, the Prioress at the time of the construction, who had a Grade 8 education, lost sleep at night worrying how we would pay back this huge debt. Ten years earlier, in 1913, we built the Sacred Heart Chapel AND Theresa Hall, the first academic building of the College of Saint Benedict.

These were not privileged women and for the most part they did not have a high level of education, but they believed in service to the sick and in education. Today we can be proud of having one of the top hospitals in the country right in St. Cloud and proud of the excellence of education at the College of Saint Benedict.

One is never certain of what the future holds but one thing I do know: this community will continue networking and developing friendships with other women so that together we can build a better world around us.

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