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  • Colleen MacFarlane

Sister Jeanne Marie Bonnett

Pictured here, I tell her story in the chapter titled: St. Catherine’s University, A Different Calling. Sister Jeanne Marie is the author’s first cousin, twice removed, on her paternal side. A highly accomplished woman, and powerful too, with recruiting authority over both students and faculty. She began the University’s Occupational therapy program. One of her crowning achievements was her central role in attaining Phi Beta Kappa status in 1939. Sister Jeanne Marie herself had become a Phi Beta Kappa member in 1917 at the University of Minnesota. She was the first woman ever to obtain a PhD. at the Catholic University of Louvain in Louvain, Belgium. The university was founded in 1425 and had become a training center for American priests. There she met a young priest, Fulton J. Sheen, who later rose to prominence for his religious radio shows and television programs from 1930 - 1957. Bishop Sheen remained a friend to both her, and her whole family, throughout Sister Jeanne Marie’s life. I recommend the book, Liberating Sanctuary, which chronicles the first 100 years of women’s education at the College of St. Catherine. https://www.amazon.com/Liberating-Sanctuary-Education-College-Catherine/dp/0739170902.


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