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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

A woman with and for others

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Sister Mary Scullion speaks about women in the Church. PHOTO: MITCHEL SHIELDS ’22 /THE HAWK

Sister Mary Scullion ’76 visits St. Joes

Sister Mary Scullion ’76 delivered a lecture in honor of women’s history month on March 27 in the Cardinal Foley Campus Center.

Throughout the lecture, she spoke about numerous women who contributed to the Catholic Church, scarcely mentioning her own accomplishments within the Philadelphia community in the past 30 years.

During the question and answer portion of her talk, one community member acknowledged the omission and asked her if she considers herself a visionary. Scullion responded in referencing her work with the nationally recognized organization she co-founded in 1989, Project HOME.

“What I’ve learned with Project HOME is that I’ve been transformed by the people involved,” Scullion said. “As part of a community, hearing each others’ stories and working toward a common vision, and I think the common vision is that none of us are home until all of us are home. Working together, that vision has been realized to some extent.”

According to Project HOME’s website, the non-profit combats individuals experiencing homelessness in Philadelphia through affordable housing, employment, health care and education.

Scullion’s visit was funded by the Joseph William and Madeline Eberle Klein Fund, which supports programming that advocates for marginalized groups in the Catholic Church, which in this case is women. Anne Bole, MSW, lectures and programming assistant for the Faith-Justice Institute, organized the lecture. Bole said that Scullion’s hands-on work in the community makes her a visionary.

“What makes [Scullion] remarkable is that she walks with folks living on the margins of society,” Bole said.

Scullion said that women work at the margins of the institutionalized church, which gives them the ability to help other marginalized groups.

“Marginalization, however painful that it is, has also been a gift,” Scullion said. “Many of the greatest woman saints have experienced God’s truth and God’s love by operating outside many of the institutional challenges and systems.”

In the beginning of her lecture, Scullion acknowledged the upcoming 100 year anniversary of women gaining the right to vote and was met with applause from the audience. Scullion said that it’s sometimes hard to understand how women go through what they go through and do the things they do.

“All these women that I’ve talked about tonight, all the women in our lives, our mothers, our friends, our sisters, have just gone through amazing things and come out the other side,” Scullion said.

Despite the accomplishments of women in the church, Scullion said the institution is modeled on the patriarchy and continues to operate that way, and she does not see that changing anytime soon.

“My goal is not to get there,” Scullion said in an interview with The Hawk. “My goal is to live as best I can as a faithful follower of Christ. I think that as people live their lives truthfully, the institutional church is either going to change or it’s going to die.”

Despite graduating from St. Joe’s 43 years ago, Scullion’s experiences at the university are channeled into her work today. She said she specifically remembers her work with Ed Brady, S.J., founder of the Faith-Justice Institute.

“The experience of working with Father Brady on the Eucharistic Congress for two years, the preparation and the actual implementation, that was just such a powerful experience of faith, of inspiration,” Scullion said. “We had the opportunity to do so many service learning projects in soup kitchens, in shelters and other places, and it just changed my life forever.”

Rachel Pardoe ’19 is a service learning placement liaison who works with Project HOME. Pardoe said that Scullion is a figure who embodies the mission of St. Joe’s.

“What she talked about tonight is that a saint isn’t just someone who’s canonized for a specific reason, it’s the people she encounters everyday and the people who inspire her,” Pardoe said. “That speaks to what a community is and she said that the foundation of a lot of her beliefs is that community, and to me, St. Joe’s is a solid community.”

Project HOME created the Hub of Hope, a safe haven for people experiencing homelessness in Suburban Station. Students involved in the weekly service program on campus can volunteer at this site, bringing Scullion’s work full circle. Marginalized groups and St. Joe’s students alike can see the work she has done for the city.

“Where would Philadelphia be without Sister Mary?” Bole said.

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