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Dr. Mullaney to present on Catholic Sisters and the Shaping of America, June 22

From the Paterson Diocese website at the top


Dr. Marie MullaneyMADISON Marie Mullaney, Ph.D., a professor of women’s history and the history of Catholicism in America at Caldwell University, will speak about the history and impact of religious sisters on the U.S., in her presentation, “Catholic Sisters and the Shaping of America,” on Wednesday, June 22 at 7:30 p.m. at St. Paul Inside the Walls: the Diocesan Center for Evangelization at Bayley-Ellard here.

“When we think about women’s history, we think of women in the U.S. who have helped win the right to vote or have broken gender barriers in different professions, like becoming the first woman doctor or lawyer. But colleges and universities do not teach about the contributions of women religious,” said Mullaney, also an author, who has been teaching at Caldwell University for 36 years. “Women religious were the CEOs, creating schools and hospitals. They helped to build America,” she said.

Mullaney developed her presentation about how nuns have helped shaped the U.S. after training and advising Caldwell students who conducted and recorded interviews with six Dominican sisters, who have played significant roles in the history of the university. This undertaking, which the students completed in an independent studies course, was part of “Sister Stories,” a much larger project, funded by the Hilton Foundation, which has been collecting the oral histories of women religious. The archives of these materials have been housed at St. Catherine University in St. Paul/Minneapolis, said Mullaney, whose husband, Kenneth F. Mullaney Jr., serves as diocesan counsel.

“Because they have been so humble, religious sisters in the U.S. did not create archives or collect materials to document their accomplishments,” said Mullaney, who earned a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Seton Hall University, South Orange, and a master’s degree in history and a doctorate in history, both from Rutgers University, New Brunswick.

While conducting research for “Sister Stories,” Mullaney learned more about the Dominicans and other religious orders that made contributions in education, healthcare and the missions, and about significant women religious, such as St. Katherine Drexel and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. Over time, she gained a deeper interest in the subject, which led to her develop her presentation that she previously delivered at Caldwell University.

“I’m interested to hear Dr. Mullaney’s perspective on how religious sisters have shaped our country,” said Allan Wright, St. Paul’s academic dean. “For anyone who works for the Church, and in particular the Paterson Diocese, we know firsthand the tremendous positive impact that religious sisters have had and continue to have right here. It will be interesting to learn about the influence these various religious communities have had in shaping our country,” he said.