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Mary Rhodes Award

Since 1981, the Loretto Community through the Loretto Women’s Network has honored women notable for their accomplishments in working for peace and acting for justice, especially for women, with the Mary Rhodes Award. These women are an eminent group who are diverse in their racial/ethnic backgrounds, age, religious traditions and occupations.

Among those honored have been legislators, educators, community organizers, authors, social workers, musicians, health care providers, ordained ministers and poets.

The award is named in honor of one of the pioneer foundresses of the Sisters of Loretto.

Like much of women’s history, Mary Rhodes’ story is largely unknown.
Tradition tells us that this young woman, member of a comfortable Maryland Catholic family, went west in the early 1800s to Kentucky to visit her brother, Bennett, who had settled there a few years earlier. While visiting the family, Mary became aware that there was no education being offered to young women in the area. She determined to change that. She began by teaching her nieces in the family home. Then she took over an old and vacant log cabin where she taught more children. She asked her friend, Nancy Havern, to join her in this work. The two of them lived together in the same cabin in which they taught the girls. Still later they asked Christina Stuart to join them.

So, we begin to uncover the layers of her story. We know that Mary was a strong woman, an active woman, a woman unafraid to take risks. She was also a woman who could size up a situation, identify a problem and do something to solve it. We may assume that she was not bound by custom since women living together in a primitive log cabin was not the ordinary arrangement. It is for that spirit that this award is named after Mary Rhodes.

Mary Rhodes Award Recipients List, 1981-2018

1981 – Gwen Giles, Della Hadley, Sue Shear
1982 – Anne Braden, Delores Delahanty, Maureen Fiedler
1983 – Alice Franco Petry, Margaret Ellen Traxler, Guillermina Valdez de Villalba
1984 – Theresa Kane, Pat Schroeder, Nancy Swank
1985 – Elise Boulding, Rose Marciano Lucey, Marge Tuite
1986 – Jane Corbett, Eddie Mae Jones, Maria Riley
1987 – Dorothy M. Hennessey, Justine Merritt, Mossie Allman Wyker
1988 – Mary Hartman, Yolanda Tarango, Mara Taub
1989 – Jeannine Gramick, Margaret Moran, Holly Near
1990 – Ruth Burgett, Bertha Gilkey
1991 – Martha Ann Elder, Ellen Hummel, Rosemary Radford Ruether
1992 – Marie Therese Archambault, Susie John, Loretto Ortiz y Pino
1993 – Josepha Eyre, Mary Hunt and Diann Neu, Rosa Marta Zárate Macías
1994 – Bella Abzug, Patricia McKissack, Rosalina Tuyuc
1995 – Edwina Gateley, Frances Kissling, Linda Peeno
1996 – Ivone Gebara, Catalina Mondragon, Graciela de la Rosa
1997 – Kristin Furnari, LaDoris Payne, Marilyn Lornez-Weinkauff
1999 – Kathy Coffey, Patricia Lawless, Patricia Washburn
2000 – Anne Fajardo, Eleanor Jordan, Sharon Bandy Kotok
2002 – Berta Sailer, Corita Bussanmas, Joan Chittister, Christine Vladimiroff, Barbara Lee
2003 – Mary Jo Heman, Marilyn Montenegro
2005 – Barbara Boxer, Diane Carman, Mary Pius Fagan
2006 – Senator Joan Fitz-Gerald, Rev. Lucia Guzmán, Rev. Jane Vennard
2009 – Judy Ancel, Catherine Billups, Dolores Huerta
2011 – Bishop Minerva Carcano, Clarice Hall, Asra Nomani, Rabbi Susen Talve
2012 – Maureen Hermann, Elizabeth Johnson, Dr. Abbe Sudvarg
2015 – Sister Simone Campbell, Ghazala Hayat, MD, Marcellina Otii, Margaret Wheatley, Loretto Motherhouse Employees
2018 – Eleanor Humphrey, Cass Cronan, Jennifer Piper, Elizabeth Warren