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 Placehttp://www.catherinplace.org, 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. http://www.satyana.org/women.html 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.