Reimagining the Framework: The Legacies of Three Generations of Catholic Women and the Implications for Modern Day Catholics of the United States

Date of Award


Degree Name

M.A. in Theological Studies


Department of Religious Studies


Advisor: Sandra Yocum


This work explores the stories of five women. Seemingly unconnected yet at once completely interwoven because of the nature of the Church community, these five women represent three successive generations. Through her tenacity and her love of education, Sister Julia McGroarty created a place for young Catholic women to pursue undergraduate work at the turn of the 20th century. Five decades later, Sister Madeleva Wolff would open access to graduate theological study to both women religious and the laity. During the same years, Sister Kathryn Sullivan pursued what formal theological education she could, eventually earning unanimous election to the Catholic Biblical Association. Shortly thereafter, Doctor Mary Daly and Sister Mary Ann Hinsdale joined the effort to open educational access to women through their pursuit of graduate degrees. The legacies of these five women demonstrate that positive change within the Catholic Church need not flow down from the hierarchy and offer practical ways for modern-day US Catholics to become changemakers within their own communities.


Theology, Religion, Religious Congregations, Religious Education, Religious History, feminism, theology, education, Catholic Church

Rights Statement

Copyright © 2018, author