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NDC-Sponsored Exhibit Kicks off at Maltz

Employees, alumni and friends of Notre Dame College gathered at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage on Thursday, May 13, to celebrate the opening of “Women & Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America.” The exhibit, sponsored in part by Notre Dame College, is a stunning chronicle of the brave and innovative women who played a significant role in shaping the nation.

Women & Spirit“Women & Spirit,” which opened on Mother’s Day, reveals the remarkable story of pioneering women who established schools, hospitals and other enduring institutions and continue to work for peace and social justice. The exhibit is a project of The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) in association with the Cincinnati Museum Center. A limited engagement at the Maltz Museum, it directly follows a successful appearance at The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

First arriving on America’s shores almost 300 years ago, Catholic sisters built and led schools, hospitals, orphanages, colleges including Notre Dame, and other social institutions at a time when women had few professional opportunities. This fascinating compilation of first-person accounts, rare artifacts, compelling films and important photographs reveals a new perspective on American history, and includes stories with special significance in this region. 

“This intriguing look at how Catholic women contributed to our country and culture fits perfectly with the museum’s focus on diversity and tolerance and our key themes,” said Judi Feniger, the Maltz Museum’s executive director.

“There are many parallels to the role of Jewish women in shaping our society, here and nationally, and shared experiences – the challenges and rewards of immigration to America, how our nation’s cities and bedrock institutions were built, the lingering effects of prejudice and discrimination, the importance of collaboration, and how one person or group can change the world”. 

In Cleveland, “Women & Spirit” includes locally-created material that tells the story of Women Religious in Northeast Ohio. With more than a dozen congregations headquartered in the region, and numerous sister-sponsored hospitals, colleges, schools, and outreach organizations, this uplifting perspective on civic life is sponsored by a regional collaborative organization of religious orders.   

The national exhibition includes stories of two area sisters.

Women & SpiritWhen Sr. Ignatia Gavin, CSA, worked with Alcoholics Anonymous co-founder Dr. Bob Smith to admit the first alcoholic patient to St. Thomas Hospital in Akron, it became the first hospital in the world to treat alcoholism as a medical condition. 

Sr. Dorothy Kazel, OSU, born in Cleveland to Lithuanian-American parents, taught here before joining the Diocese of Cleveland and going to El Salvador, providing relief services, education and work with refugees before her murder (along with three Maryknoll sisters) by members of the El Salvadoran National Guard. For the first time in Salvadoran history, members of the military were found guilty of assassination and sentenced to prison. The murders are the subject of several films and books.

A season-long offering of provocative programs, performances and lectures at the museum and around town will complement themes of the exhibition, and a film by Steven Hacker created exclusively for the Maltz Museum adds an interreligious approach, highlighting the role of spirituality in the lives and work of area women of various faiths. 

Docent-led tours are available daily for adult and student groups of 10 or more, with discounts for groups of 15 and more. Reservations are required for group tours. Learn more about the exhibit or the Maltz Museum at www.maltzmuseum.org.