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Women's History Month

Stories of Women Missionaries

March is Women's History Month!Women World Mission Sunday Image

In celebration, the World Mission Ministries office will be sharing information about women and women's groups throughout the world, past and present, who have made an impact on the world through their life and mission.  

Missionaries Outside ChapelCheck back regularly for more stories.

We are always looking for more great stories!  So, if you have a story of a missionary or mission group that you would like to share, or if you are a missionary who would like to share a reflection from your experience, please email us at

(please note: links on this page may take you to external sites which are not managed by World Mission Ministries nor the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Questions or issues about those sites should be directed to their respective web managers. Thank you.)

Spotlight: Patricia Roehrig, St Michael Parish and Maryknoll Affiliates

Womens History MonthPatricia Roehrig is a founding member of a local Maryknoll Affiliate group, with a commitment to justice and fairness, whether in global or local mission work.

For several years Pat served as DRE at St Michael parish, which is strongly committed to meeting the needs of a diverse community. Parishioners include many immigrant families, such as Laotian, Hmong, Hispanics and, more recently, Burmese.

For Pat, “think globally, act locally” is a guideline which she lives fully.  When Pat sees a need, she is a woman of action. In recent years, it was noted that many (if not most) of the newly arrived Burmese families had no English language skills.

After consulting with parish staff and others who saw this need, Pat agreed to coordinate a unique adult ESL tutoring program, recruiting volunteers from various parishes who meet one-on-one weekly with students. Some students have grown sufficiently to take and pass the citizenship test.

Pat’s deep spirituality is lived out in her actions toward others and the heart she has for people. She frequently emphasizes an awareness of God’s presence and the “many saints around us.”

Pat’s passion for justice and respect for all people inspires all who know her.

(Text shared by Jacqueline Maggiore)

Spotlight: Sister Carla Piette, MM, Maryknoll Sister (1939-1980)

(information and prayer submitted by Jacqueline Maggiore)

"The Lord is calling me to be poor with His poor."

A compassionate woman of faith, Sister Carla relied on prayer, scripture and lifegiving humor as she missioned in Chile from 1964-79, then volunteered for El Salvador with Sister Ita Ford in 1980.  Carla died there August 23, 1980, where she is remembered as "Martyr of Charity."

In the midst of terror and violence, Carla wrote from El Salvador that year:
"The walk continues and the Lord of the Way leads each day with no map and no clear weather, but rather fog and total trust."

Her words in "Carla's Prayer" may inspire all of us as missioners.  Click here to read the prayer.

You can read more about Sister Carla in her biography: Vessel of Clay – the Inspirational Journey of Sister Carla, by Jacqueline Hansen Maggiore.

Mary McCormickSpotlight: Mary J. McCormick, Lay Missionary, Archdiocese of Milwaukee

In 1968, Mary McCormick, a widowed mother of seven, saw a notice on a Church Bulletin Board about PAVLA (the Papal Volunteers to Latin America). Not long after she saw the notice, she, along with her three youngest daughters, then 11, 14, and 17, left to serve as a Lay Missionary in Bogota, Columbia. The plan was to stay for one year.   Mary McCormick served in Bogota for most of the next 26 years.

Click here to read our Spotlight Story on Mary J. McCormick.

Oblate Sisters of Providence

"The original inspiration of the Oblate Sisters of Providence is that gift of the Spirit so evident in the life of Mother Mary Lange.  This charism enables us, with total trust in God's Providence, to bring joy, healing and the liberating, redemptive love of the suffering Jesus to the victims of poverty, racism and injustice despite contradictions, prejudice and pain."
(Source:, Oblate Sisters of Providence: Mission and Charism page, Statement of Charism, accessed March 25, 2014)

The Oblate Sisters of Providence is the first congregation of African American women religious in the History of the Catholic Church. They founded the oldest continuously operating Catholic school for African American children, St. Frances Academy, in Baltimore, Maryland. Founded in 1829 by Elizabeth (later Mother Mary) Lange; Maria Balas; and Fr. James Hector Nicholas Joubert, S.S. in response to the needs of the African American community in the area, the Oblate sisters, assisted by other orders, later opened and ran schools in other parts of the United States, and expanded to international mission work in 1900. Today, they continue to run schools and other learning centers in many areas, with a special focus on addressing the issues of racism, poverty, and injustice and on the needs of women and children.

Read more about their history and mission at

(sources:, Oblate Sisters of Providence History page, and, Oblate Sisters of Providence Commitments/Intolerables page, both accessed March 25, 2014)

St. Katharine Drexel

The 2nd American-born Catholic Saint, St. Katharine Drexel left a life of wealth and privilege to serve marginalized people and had a special dedication to mission and missionaries and to serving African Americans and American Indians. She founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, who ran schools and mission centers to serve the American Indian and African American communities, including founding the first University for African American students, Xavier University in New Orleans. They continue today to work in education and to focus on the needs of the oppressed and the poor.  St. Katharine Drexel was canonized in 2000 and her feast day is celebrated on March 3rd.

To read more about the life of St. Katharine Drexel and the work of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, please click here to visit the SBS website.

(sources:, St. Katharine Drexel, Faith ND Pray With Today's Saint Entry, Accessed March 21, 2014, and, Katharine homepage, Accessed March 21, 2014)

American Saints: Saint Marianne Cope of Molokai and Saint Kateri Tekakwitha

In 2012, Pope Benedict XVI canonized two Americans, both women. They are Saint Marianne Cope of Molokai, who spent 30 years ministering to the sick of Hawaii, and Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, who devoted her life to prayer and helping the sick, and is the first Native American Saint.  Please click here to read more about their canonization and click here for resources about their lives.

You can also click here for a prayer to St. Marianne Cope

Or you can click here to download a prayer to St. Kateri Tekakwitha.

(sources:, Page "New Saints", accessed March 19th, 2014 and, Brochure from Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions, St. Kateri Tekakwitha, Mohawk, Mystic, and Model for the New Evangelization, Accessed [through link] March 19th, 2014.  St. Marianne Cope prayer link updated March 6, 2015 from the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities webpage St. Marianne Cope Prayer and Novena accessed March 6, 2015)

St. Clare of Assisi:

"On the night of Palm Sunday, March 18, 1212, when Clare was still a few months shy of 18, she left home to become the first female disciple of Francis of Assisi."
(source:, Monastery of St. Clare, Brenham Texas website. Accessed March 7, 2014)

St. Clare of Assisi left a life of privilege to live a life of poverty and prayer.  She founded the Poor Clares, who now number in the tens of thousands and have monasteries throughout the world. You can read more about her life and ministry on the Catholic Encyclopedia Website and find out more about the Poor Clare Sisters by visiting the Poor Clare Sisters Website.

Venerable Pauline Jaricot:

Venerable Pauline Jaricot"If only I could love without measure, without end."

These are the words of Venerable Pauline Jaricot, the founder of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. Starting in Lyon, France with "circles of 10" who would pray and give donations for the missions, she was the "match that lit the fire," and, as Pope John XXIII wrote, ";It was she who thought of the society, who conceived it, and made it an organized reality."

Read more about her love for the missions and people all over the world by visiting the Society for the Propagation of the Faith's page "Celebrating a Legacy"

(source: picture and quotations from, Accessed March 6, 2014)

Girl Scouts:

"Through numerous enrichment activities and opportunities, the organization encourages girls to contribute to their communities, support one another and always expect the best of themselves. The organization's mission to build "girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place" has now been embodied by girls around the globe." (source: International Business Times, Accessed March 12, 2014)

On March 12, 2014, The Girl Scouts celebrated their 102nd birthday.  Read more about their history and mission in the International Business Times Article: Girl Scout National Birthday: 22 Facts About Girl Scouts

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