Women Hall of Famers

March is U.S. Women’s History Month. This honoring of American women officially dates back to 1981, when Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Representative Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) co-sponsored a bill to set aside a week honoring U.S. women for their contributions to the nation. In 1989, Congress expanded the celebration to a full month.
Many may be unaware that there is a National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York. This was established in 1969 and, as of 2010, 236 women are inductees. Nominated from all fields of life, they made significant contributions to the nation through outreach or impact beyond their own particular time and place. Among those in the hall are names one might expect: Anne Hutchinson, Abigail Adams, Dorothy Day, Willa Cather, Dorothea Dix, Helen Keller, Beverly Sills and Ruth Ginsberg. I am very pleased that at least one canonized saint is among the members: St. Frances Xavier Cabrini. She is cited primarily for her contribution to education for immigrant families.
It occurs to me that we could have our own Benedictine Hall of Fame—strong, grace-filled women who are our role models and surely have made solid contributions to the Church and society in general. I would nominate for membership our community leaders who, in the late 1920s, courageously foresaw the need and carried through construction of the St. Cloud Hospital and also Sisters Lioba Braun and Philomena Ketten who helped found the White Earth Indian Mission. The list could be much longer, of course. Who would you include?