Newsletter

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.

MAKERS Moment

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

SuChin Pak
SuChin Pak
Journalist

SuChin Pak began her television career in high school when she was recruited to host a teen-based television show for an ABC affiliate station, and eventually moved on to jobs at O...

Alix Kates Shulman
Alix Kates Shulman
Feminist Writer and Activist

Alix Kates Shulman is a feminist activist and writer who has penned fourteen books including her bestselling novel, Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen, considered one of the first of its ...

Joan Sullivan
Joan Sullivan
Educator & Public Policy

Joan Sullivan has been actively involved in school reform for the last decade. She is a founding member of the Urban Assembly, a non-profit at the forefront of new school developme...

Lilly Ledbetter
Lilly Ledbetter
Equal Pay for Equal Work

Lilly Ledbetter worked as an area manager at Goodyear plant in Gadsden, Alabama for nineteen years. Her crusade to remedy the gender-based pay discrimination that she suffered duri...