Network of Sacred Heart Schools
SHP Students and Faculty Dig Deep Into the RSCJ’s Political Activism
Ava Borchers ‘21, Sofie Wheeler ‘21, Lizeth Suarez ‘21, & Kaitlyn Smith ‘22
Women-led project works to expand or write Wikipedia pages
The RSCJ, or the Society of The Sacred Heart, is an order of Catholic women who started the Sacred Heart School Network. Many SHP students are familiar with the RSCJ, but how much do we know about the sisters' lives as young political advocates? Ms. Williams and Ms. Kelly, two women deeply interested in politics and civil rights, wanted to answer this question with the help of 15 SHP students. Ms. Williams and Ms. Kelly chose to pursue this project because “most of the Wikipedia pages about [the RSCJ] are insufficient,” and as teachers, they know that students often go to Wikipedia as the first stop for information. This project aims to make information about the RSCJ easily accessible to the public.
There are a few ways that the group of students and faculty are tackling this project. Some are researching landmark Supreme Court cases that the RSCJ have been involved in. Another group is collecting information to add to or create Wikipedia pages on selective nuns of the RSCJ. The groups started by researching the institutions of higher education that are affiliated with the Society of the Sacred Heart to get some background for their research. After the initial research process, five nuns were picked to be the focus of the project for this spring semester. To get information, students and faculty looked in archives, reached out to the nuns themselves, and contacted family members of nuns who have passed away.
Three juniors, Sam Campos (‘21), Lizeth Suarez (‘21), and Alekos Kapur (‘21), got a very interesting response from a cousin of Sister Carol Bialock, who passed away on May 3rd, 2020. Joan Grimm, the cousin of Sister Bialock, was elated to have a student reaching out because she had “been praying for this email.” Grimm had been hoping that someone recognize Sister Bialock’s work as a poet and protester in Chile, because she was “the real deal.” The Society of the Sacred Heart published an article about her poetry, saying she was "not a traditional nun.” She was an “activist” who “spent her life deeply devoted to those in need.” This story of political advocacy is not unique to just Sister Bialock, but a trend seen throughout the RSCJ organization.
Harsimran Chohan (‘22) and Luci Lambert (‘21) are working together to create a Wikipedia page on Sister Fran Tobin, who is part of the RSCJ community. They explained that Sister Tobin was a lawyer and an activist in the Bay Area. Luci hopes her research and Wikipedia page can pay "tribute" to Sister Tobin. Harsimran was interested in being part of this research project because it gave her “the opportunity to learn about a different faith.” They both talk about how there is very little information about the RSCJ, which makes research difficult, even though they are an international organization. They all agree that creating Wikipedia pages on the sisters of the RSCJ will help educate the public on their lives, advocacy, and dedication to the education of young women.
Ms. Kelly and Ms. Williams have been planning and dreaming about what this project could become, but now with the help of 15 students, it is all coming together. Their research committee hopes to uncover the fantastic work of the Catholic women of the Society of the Sacred Heart. This female-led project is working on expanding or writing Wikipedia pages on Janet Erskine Stuart, Fran Tobin, Anne Montgomery, Carol Bialock, and Clare Pratt. While the research and completion of the Wikipedia pages have been difficult, Ms. Kelly, Ms. Williams, and the students contributing hope to “give a voice to the women religious of the Catholic faith.”