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Tuesday, June 16, 2020 - 12:45pm

A new biography of Sister Theresa Kane, former associate professor of behavioral sciences at Mercy College and a 65-year member of the Sisters of Mercy, the order of nuns that founded Mercy College, has won a highly esteemed book award. The biography follows Kane, a staunch advocate for women’s rights in the church, through her rise to global social justice luminary and head of The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), a member organization representing most of the nation’s nuns.

“To Speak the Truth in Love” (Christine Schenk, author; Orbis Books, publisher), a 2019 biography of Kane, was named a winner of the 2020 Excellence in Publishing Awards by The Association of Catholic Publishers. In the winning biography category, Kane’s story joined the biographies of Mother Teresa and Sister Thea Bowman, a trailblazing African American nun.

In 1979, Kane was the only woman invited to greet Pope John Paul II during his visit to America. Part of his visit included a large assembly of the Pope, religious leaders, the LCWR, and other prominent dignitaries. Her biography opens with the dramatic scene of Kane standing at an elevated podium, addressing the assembly, of which the Pope is an audience member. In Kane’s allocution, she delivers a strong dissent of the Pope’s conservative view, confronting him about women’s submissive roles in the church and stating that women should allowed to be priests, among other reforms. The groundbreaking speech was documented in a 2012 film “Band of Sisters,” the story of Catholic nuns working for social justice in the 1960s.

Kane also appeared in a 2013 PBS documentary, “MAKERS: Women Who Make America,” which profiles the extraordinary impact of women who were “first in their fields, visionary role models, or frontline activists who have sparked, and sometimes opposed, change for women.” Kane was featured alongside Hillary Clinton, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Madeline Albright and many more.

The publisher’s summary of the Kane biography reads: “During her seven years as president of the Sisters of Mercy of the Union, [Kane] fought tirelessly for women’s equality. Because she would not desist from speaking her sisters’ truth, the Vatican tried to remove her from office.... [This] book documents an important period of contemporary Catholic history when Theresa Kane and so many other sisters exercised unparalleled leadership in the Catholic Church by speaking truth to power — with love, wisdom, and grace.”

"I was honored to be invited by Christine Schenk, a Sister of St. Joseph of Cleveland, Ohio to undertake my biography. Chris is a well known leader in catholic and other religious circles; she is an avid writer, a scholar and recently completed a book about the women in the early christian church entitled: Crispiana and Her Sisters. Christine brings energy, enthusiasm and creativity to her work," Kane said.

"The focus of the biography was to share experiences with others who have a conviction to advance and deepen continuing spiritual Renewal. I am privileged to be associated with other leaders who take seriously a vision to witness the Divine and the Spiritual as we deepen our faith in this world for and the next!"

Mercy College proudly honored Kane with a Lifetime Achievement Award at its Annual Trustees’ Scholarship Dinner in 2015. To view a video honoring Kane’s humble and impactful service please click here.