I posted this morning about a NYT elegy for a Catholic school in the Bronx. I've just finished reading, in the July/August issue of the Washington Monthly, a fascinating profile of another face of American Catholic education: Kevin Carey's article "The Trinity Sisters," about the proud history and powerful alumnae of Washington, D.C.'s Trinity College. Carey's story focuses particularly on two Trinity grads, Nancy Pelosi and Kathleen Sebelius, who were instrumental in getting the Affordable Care Act signed into law. I know some might take that as evidence of the failure of Catholic higher ed, but the college is obviously proud of its daughters' achievements, and both women told Carey how inspiring and empowering they found their time at Trinity. Their comments echo the sort of praise you often hear from graduates of other selective women's colleges -- a sign that Trinity had fulfilled its original mission "to take our young Catholic women to a higher plane than has been so far reached by our Catholic schools; in a word do for them what Vassar and Wellesley and Bryn Mawr are doing for American women."In tracing the history of Trinity College, Carey also tells the story of its founding order, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, and explains how their particular charism has played out in the life of the college. Like parish schools, Trinity has had to adjust to changing realities -- in this case, the opening of schools like Catholic U. and Georgetown to women as well as men, and of course a general relaxing of social barriers that kept promising Catholic students away from non-Catholic schools. Carey's article looks at how the sisters have responded, bringing Trinity into the present while remaining in touch with its past. Read the whole story here.
Mollie Wilson O'Reilly is an editor at large and columnist at Commonweal.