Stay up to date with the latest from MAKERS delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for new stories from trailblazing women, a big dose of inspiration, and exclusive MAKERS content.

Newsletter Confirmation

Thank you for joining! Please check your inbox for our special welcome letter
with exclusive updates from MAKERS.


The Women’s Movement Comes to Catholic Nuns

The Women’s Movement Comes to Catholic Nuns

More From Theresa

In this video

Think the women's movement and the Catholic Church are unlikely bedmates?  Kane talks about how they began to align in the 70s.

Theresa's Biography

Three Attributes to Describe Herself: Peaceful, partygoer, and social
Proudest Accomplishment: Her life decision to become a Catholic nun.
Special Guests: Her mother, sister, and niece traveled from New York to be in the audience during her 1979 papal greeting.
Back to School: She went back to school in her mid-50s for a Master's in Women's Studies. 

In 1979, Sister Theresa Kane was serving as President of the US Leadership of the Women Religious when she was invited to publicly address Pope John Paul II during his visit to the National Shrine in Washington DC. She came before the Pope and the packed pews and said quietly: “We have heard the powerful message of our church addressing the dignity and reverence of all persons. As women, we have pondered these words." The Church, "must respond by providing the possibility of women as persons being included in all ministries.” While the Pontiff himself did not immediately respond, Sister Theresa’s words were broadcast and televised around the world. They continue to reverberate today. She says her plea was “a surprise” to the public, “but not to professional theologians or those in the sisterhood…we were looking at the role of women in the church and society and I was quite imbued in that culture.”
She has continued to speak, to teach, and to lobby for the expansion of women’s roles within the Church. And she left an impression: When a member of Sister Theresa’s order met with the Pope nineteen years later, he made note of the connection and asked if the sister knew her. The reply was “yes.” John Paul II asked the sister—not once, but twice—to “give my regards to Sister Kane.” 

Related Videos

Cady Coleman
Cady Coleman

As a chemist and an astronaut, Cady Coleman boasts an impressive list of accolades that orbit around science and space. The former United States Air Force officer has logged n...

Donna de Varona
Donna de Varona
Olympic Champion & Sportscaster

At 14 years of age, Donna de Varona was the youngest swimmer to compete at the 1960 Summer Olympics. Four years later at the 1964 Tokyo games, she won two gold medals, setting an O...

Wendy Kopp
Wendy Kopp
Founder & CEO, Teach For America

Wendy Kopp is CEO and founder of Teach For America. The idea first came to her as a senior in college, and she proposed the concept in her senior thesis. Following graduation, she ...

Kathy Griffin
Kathy Griffin
Comedian and Actor

Kathy Griffin is a comedian and actor famous for her Emmy award-winning reality show, “Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List." Now very much A-List, Griffin has perfo...