congregation of the sisters of st joseph of peace
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Women at the Table

Since God has been pleased
to give me a gift of writing,...
I feel I would be ungrateful to God
and undutiful to the Church
if I did not use my poor efforts
on the side of truth and peace.
Sister Mary Francis Clare, the Nun of Kenmare

Women at the Table: A Margaret Anna Cusack Project

Women at the Table is an association of persons dedicated to 1) achieving peace through justice by the inclusion of women as full participants in decision making, and 2) rediscovering the legacy of Margaret Anna Cusack and restoring her just dignity as a woman ahead of her time.

About Margaret Ann Cusack (Sister Mary Francis Clare)

Margaret Anna Cusack is a 19th-century Irish writer, social activist and founder of a religious congregation of women dedicated to peace. Through her life work she achieved a "place at the table" only to be forced away by cultural obstacles and organizational resistance. She understood and articulated what would be enunciated by the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights and the papal encyclical Pacem in Terris, namely, that cultural marginalization and institutionalized indifference are primordial violations of human rights and human dignity. She anticipated questions that were raised in the church at a later date; she spoke prophetically to point out problems and oppression as she saw them.

Margaret Anna Cusack was born into an Anglo-Irish family in Dublin, Ireland, on May 6, 1829. Her parents were Dr. Samuel and Mrs. Sarah Stoney Cusack. In 1858, she was received into the Catholic Church and entered a Catholic religious order, the Poor Clares, in Ireland. During the next 25 years she wrote and published over 80 books, articles, musical works, plays and poetry. She organized a famine relief fund that gained her fame as the "Nun of Kenmare." In 1884, she founded a new religious congregation, St. Joseph's Sisters of Peace, whose mission is to promote peace in the church, the family, and the world. After steady opposition from church figures, Margaret Anna Cusack left religious life. She died in 1899 and was buried in the Anglican cemetery in Leamington, England.

Response to the Acts of the 20th General Chapter

"In response to the Acts of the 20th General Chapter of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace, WATT sets out a project to 'better understand our charism, reflect on the life of Mother Clare,' more widely known as Margaret Anna Cusack. This is a participation in peace-making and justice for women. In her writings and her life work, a path of justice and truth is laid out which can lead to peace and reconciliation, where former enemies join hands in mutuality and trust. Specifically, WATT commits to research the life/work of Margaret Anna Cusack and to reassemble a full portrait of her as an important, substantial influence in the economic, social, political, literary and religious life of England, Ireland and the U.S., in her time and in ours."

WATT Co-Directors

Rosalie McQuaide, CSJP

Janet Davis Richardson, CSJP

Contact Information

WOMEN AT THE TABLE A Margaret Ann Cusack Project
4842 Elon Crescent
Lakeland, FL 33810
Phone/fax: 863-858-6611

Women at the Table

"The Spirit sounds herself in so many voices: sometimes Her whisper is persuasive and easy to follow; sometimes Her cry is fiery and threatening. But She must be listened to."

Dorothy Vidulich, CSJP