|1941 At Her Desk|
Our Last Blog dealt with a member of Maryknoll. This Blog introduces the foundress of the women's branch of that missionary order.
SERVANT of GOD MOTHER MARY JOSEPH ROGERS was born in
in 1882. Mollie was the fourth child and first daughter in a family of eight.
Mary Josephine attended public schools in Roxbury, Massachusetts Boston,
then Smith College
in , where she specialized in
zoology, graduating in 1905. She also spent a year at Northampton, Massachusetts
in a special program for college graduates that earned her a teaching certificate.
After two years at Boston Normal School Smith College, where she was an assistant in the biology
department, she taught in ’s
public schools, at both the elementary and high school levels. Boston
At the suggestion of Elizabeth Hanscom, a faculty member, and with the encouragement of the Rev. James A. Walsh, director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith in
Mary Josephine organized a Mission Study Club for the college’s Catholic students
in 1906. From 1908, when she returned to Boston
until 1912, she devoted her spare time to assisting Father Walsh in the work of
mission education–editing, translating and writing for The Field Afar, a
mission magazine begun by Father Walsh in 1907 and now called Maryknoll. Boston
In 1911, Father Walsh and Father Thomas Frederick Price, a seasoned home missioner in
Mary Josephine was not able to go with the first small group of three women who offered their services to the young organization. But in September 1912, when the family obligations that prevented her from leaving
had been satisfied, she joined them in their temporary home in . Hawthorne, New
|Secretaries (First Maryknoll Sisters) - MMJ front 2nd from right|
Mary Josephine was chosen by Father Walsh and the “secretaries,” as they were called, to direct the group under Father Walsh’s guidance. She continued in that capacity until 1920, when the group, then numbering 35, was recognized as a diocesan religious congregation: the Foreign Mission Sisters of St. Dominic, generally called the Maryknoll Sisters.
At the first General Chapter in 1925, Mary Josephine was elected Mother General. Mother Mary Joseph (her religious name) was re-elected to that office at subsequent General Chapters until her retirement in 1946 at the age of 64. At that time the Congregation numbered 733, and the Sisters were working in
From the beginning, she accepted sisters from any culture of the world where Maryknoll worked. That represented an amazing openness to other races and cultures for the time.
|1923 Departure for China|
The reverence and esteem for Mother Mary Joseph extended far beyond the religious community she founded, as is shown by the honorary degrees which were bestowed on her: Doctor of Laws by Regis College in Boston in 1945 and Trinity College in Washington D.C., in 1949 and Doctor of Letters from her alma mater, Smith College, in 1950.
|Manila, Philippines 194|
The Maryknoll Sisters became a Pontifical Institute in 1954 and the name of the Congregation was changed to Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic.
Mother Mary Joseph died in 1955. She often spoke of the Maryknoll Spirit “as being a reflection of the love of God, nothing more nor less than that, a reflection of the love of God.”