Sherry L
Posted January 27, 2015 from United States
Sr. Lucy Kurien & Sr. Peg Murphy
Maher Founder & Director Sr. Lucy Kurien & Catherine Place Director Emerita Sr. Peg Murphy

This photo hangs above my desk. A constant reminder of the power of women's leadership. The woman on the left, Sr. Lucy Kurien, was born in southern India. The woman on the right, Sr. Peg Murphy, was born in Ireland and immigrated to the U.S. in her twenties.

Sr. Lucy founded Maher Ashramhttp://www.maherashram.orgin India, an organization that walks with people in need in three Indian states. Peg was the founding director and currently serves as director emerita of Catherine Place, an organization that works with more than 1,450 women in transition each year in Tacoma, WA, USA.

Both women are Catholic nuns and both founded organizations that offer hope, hospitality and opportunities to people of all faith traditions -- or no faith tradition. Both began their work with virtually no money. What they both had was a dream, encouraging, supportive friends and mentors, and a deep well of unstoppable courage

On Feb. 2, Maher will celebrate its 18th anniversary. This dream has grown to 30 homes in three Indian states that provide care and shelter to 1,000 children and 300 women on any given day, along with many other projects including an extensive network of self-help groups.

Catherine Place will mark the 15th anniversary of its movement of hope, healing and connection this year. Last year, Catherine Place welcomed more than 867 women for Individual Support & Advocacy sessions, 210 women connected in ongoing circles and groups, 85 Latinas participated in the county's only ongoing domestic violence prevention and support group program in Spanish.

The size of the annual budgets of these organizations may surprise you. Last year, Maher did its work with slightly more than the equivalent of $413,000 U.S. and Catherine Place did its work with around $225,000.

You haven't read about Sr. Lucy or Peg in the New York Times or seen them on any major media channels -- yet. Both have received prestigious awards in their communities. Sr. Lucy travels to Europe and the U.S. every year or two to speak at conferences -- often on the topic of interspirituality. The founders of the Satyana Institute, pioneers in the gender reconciliation movement, published a book on Maher's work. People travel from across the U.S. to experience Catherine Place's model.

Having been blessed to spend extended periods of time with both women, I believe they are happiest and most at peace in the company of the people they are serving. My "sheroes" came together for this joyful photo taken in Sept. 2013 in the Catherine Place kitchen, where once again these two remarkable women leaders were sowing the seeds of love, justice and peace.

I would enjoy hearing about women who inspire you and your "herstoric" moments.

Comments 3

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Yvette Warren
Jan 28, 2015
Jan 28, 2015

Ah, Sherry, the Sacred Sisters...what a wonderful world of women! 

I was taught, for twelve years, by women who had pledged their lives to following the path of responsible compassion, as taught to them in the Jesus stories. I can honestly say that the sacred sisters are the reason I have such a strong commitment to, and voice for, justice. 

I have been honored to work with homeless families, through an effort begun by a nun and run by a devoted Jewish director. I lost count of how many families we were able to help through this agency. The founding nun also founded a home for homeless women, where they are taught employment and other life skills. Her efforts for the homeless in New Orleans seem tireless and super-human.

I have formally defected from the church of Roman Catholicism, but the encounters with the nuns will forever live in my spirit and life's work.

Thank you for highlighting these two blessings upon our shared earth. You have blessed me with the sparking of many fond memories Thank you.


Sherry L
Jan 28, 2015
Jan 28, 2015


Thanks for sharing some of your experience!  The project in New Orleans sounds amazing.  It seems this story repeats itself time and again in community after community.  The women religious have been doing fabulous work tirelessly for a long time.  I am not Catholic,  I was raised Presbyterian, am now a member of the Episcopal church, and I have so much respect for the healing, loving work the sisters have done and are doing in the world and the way in which they do it.

Deep gratitude,


Feb 18, 2015
Feb 18, 2015

I am glad I found this inspiring post. From what I have just learned about Lucy and Peg, I am motivated to keep dreaming. Yes, women have got what it takes to make the world a better place.

In my journey of change, I remain inspired by my late mum ( who was a very hardworking and enterprising woman; and late Maathai Wangari (See: who earned the Nobel Peace Prize for Environment in her lifetime.

There are many other wonderful women changemakers in this community and my local community who continue to inspire me; and give me hope that the kind of future that women and girls want is possible. There is never a time for us to give up in our quest for a better world. When we each do our bit, it eventually all adds up.

Warm regards, Olanike