I have a long standing interest in history and women’s history, so when I had the opportunity to go to the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage for a Backstage Pass Tour of their newest exihibit Women & Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America I jumped at the chance.
The Museum is partnering with the Library and several other organizations to present programming in conjunction with the exhibit and one of my friends, Dr. Judith Cetina who is the manager and archivist of the Cuyahoga County Archives, will be speaking at the Lee Road branch on Monday, June 14th 2010, at 7:30 pm. Her topic is Works of Mercy: Women Religious, Benevolence, and Healthcare in Cleveland. I’m really looking forward to hearing her speak and I thought it would be interesting to see the exhibit beforehand.
It is wonderful. It is a combination of a timeline of United States history and a look at the various areas in which sisters and nuns have had an influence, and they are many. If you go, and I encourage you to do so, you will find out the difference between a sister and a nun, how they arrived in the United States, how they chose their work, the derivation of their habits.
There are artifacts from several orders in the form of letters, journal entries, tools, and habits. There is a short movie in the exhibit where several nuns and sisters discuss why they became religious, why they do what they do. The paths they have taken are myriad, but tend to center around education, healthcare (you will find out about the order that was instrumental in founding the Mayo Clinic) and orphan/childcare (ever read about the orphan trains?). In addition, there is a section devoted to the orders in Northeast Ohio and that is what Dr. Cetina will be lecturing about.
If you want to read something ahead of time, there are several titles that you could pick up at the library that are featured at the Museum:
Sisters: Catholic Nuns and the Making of America by John Fialka
Stalking the Divine: Contemplating Faith with the Poor Clares by Kristin Ohlson (local author)
Pioneer Healers: The History of Women Religious in American Health Care. (Dr. Cetina wrote a chapter for this book).
Click on any of the above titles to request the book or on any of the highlighted phrases to visit the web site and get to the Maltz Museum if you can for both the exhibit and some interesting programs they have coming up connected to the exhibit.