The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

Sister Mary Alice Chineworth

Nun and teacher Sister Mary Alice Chineworth was born on July 16, 1917 in Rock Island, Illinois. Her mother, Victoria, was German-American, while her father, Alexander, was the son of a former slave. A student of St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Rock Island from kindergarten through twelfth grade, Chineworth was inspired by the charity of the nuns who taught her. In 1936, after learning that her race prevented her from joining most religious orders, Chineworth took vows with the Order of the Oblate Sisters of Providence, the oldest religious organization for black women in America. Chineworth went on to earn her B.A. degree in English from Mount Mary College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1952 as well as her M.A. degree in psychology and her Ph.D. degree in higher education from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

Chineworth dedicated her adult life to educating young people. For over thirty years, she taught in schools administered by her order, including St. Frances Academy, the school founded by the first members of the Oblates in 1828. In 1966, she became an administrator at Mount Providence Junior College, an Oblate community college, before serving as president from 1969 until the college closed three years later. In 1973, she began to hold higher-level positions within the Oblate administration, culminating in her appointment in 1989 to the position of superior general. She was a member of the National Black Sisters Conference, an association of African American nuns. In 1996, Chineworth edited Rise ’n’ Shine: Catholic Education and the African-American Community. In 2002, Chineworth was interviewed by Camille Cosby, a former Oblate student, for the National Visionary Leadership Project. Chineworth’s story was included in the 2004 book A Wealth of Wisdom: Legendary African American Elders Speak. In 2005, she accepted a $2 million donation from Camille Cosby to start a scholarship fund at the school.

Chineworth passed away on June 21, 2017 at age 99.

Accession Number

A2010.072

Sex

Female

Interview Date

7/12/2010

Last Name

Chineworth

Marital Status

Single

Middle Name

Alice

Occupation
Schools

St. Joseph’s High School

Mount Mary College

St. Ambrose University

Catholic University of America

First Name

Mary

Birth City, State, Country

Rock Island

HM ID

CHI01

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Oregon Coast

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Maryland

Birth Date

7/16/1917

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Baltimore

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Butter Pecan Ice Cream

Death Date

6/21/2017

Short Description

Teacher and nun Sister Mary Alice Chineworth (1917 - 2017 ) was a member and former superior general of the Order of the Oblate Sisters of Providence, the oldest religious order for black women. An educator for more than thirty years, Chineworth was profiled in the book, "A Wealth of Wisdom: Legendary African American Elders Speak."

Employment

Oblate Sisters of Providence

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:1365,9:8636,92:9791,114:11793,161:12255,168:18146,255:18566,261:19238,270:24910,293:25435,299:28900,345:29890,359:31510,410:31960,416:38249,520:41068,558:42340,564:43927,611:44479,623:44962,631:46273,661:46687,673:49723,751:50620,770:51517,784:54986,819:60994,900:61474,906:67655,990:68180,998:68780,1007:74330,1195:84488,1325:85104,1335:85412,1340:113740,1636:122770,1729:131808,1853:135388,1913:157925,2179:159030,2193:159370,2255:159710,2263:160050,2268:160390,2273:166408,2389:175344,2507:175908,2515:179860,2552:183856,2622:184300,2630:184892,2644:186076,2668:187186,2692:189776,2754:190812,2779:198810,2863:201073,2874:201561,2887:201988,2956:220918,3227:226133,3268:227789,3305:232136,3412:235655,3532:236483,3546:240460,3641:252601,3803:258048,3853:258336,3858:260064,3893:269738,3948:271066,3970:272560,3991:277585,4028:277925,4033:280910,4066:290140,4256$0,0:6115,108:18427,444:27515,621:27941,628:33851,671:36600,685:37440,701:38210,714:38490,719:44158,813:49009,879:49513,889:65500,1114:69020,1178:82264,1295:85370,1328:95947,1416:109740,1622:110272,1630:114876,1709:115152,1714:116187,1740:117567,1768:118740,1800:119223,1808:124744,1851:129230,1895:129542,1900:129932,1947:135680,2022:140460,2062:142088,2104:142828,2113:148874,2190:150150,2269:150440,2276:150846,2284:151368,2295:152956,2312:153546,2323:153782,2328:156055,2354:157630,2382:158155,2390:159355,2414:173302,2578:173785,2587:174550,2599
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Sister Mary Alice Chineworth's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth recalls her maternal ancestors' emigration to the United States

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth remembers her mother's education

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth talks about her maternal grandparents' arranged marriage

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth remembers her paternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth describes her father's upbringing

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth recalls her paternal grandfather's occupations

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth talks about her father's education and occupation

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth recalls how her parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth describes her maternal grandparents' reaction to her parents' marriage

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth recalls her family's relocation to Rock Island, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth remembers the industry in Rock Island, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth talks about her father's business in Rock Island, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth recalls her mother's homemade sauerkraut

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth recalls encountering discrimination in her early education

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth describes her childhood home in Rock Island, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth lists her siblings

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth describes her parents' personalities and whom she takes after

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth recalls the black businesses in Rock Island, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth describes her high school experiences

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth recalls her experience growing up biracial

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth talks about her studies at St. Ambrose College in Davenport, Iowa

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth recalls joining the Oblate Sisters of Providence

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth describes the history of the Oblate Sisters of Providence

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth talks about Mother Mary Lange

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth describes the mission of the Oblate Sisters of Providence

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth remembers the Oblate Sisters of Providence's property

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth talks about discrimination in the Catholic church

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth remembers her arrival at Saint Frances Church and Convent in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth recalls the racial demographics of the Oblate Sisters of Providence

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth remembers her early teaching positions

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth talks about African American religious orders

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth describes her attire as a nun

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth talks about her experience as a teacher

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth recalls her teaching experience in the South

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth talks about her brother's war experience

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth remembers her former students

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth describes her brother, Joseph Chineworth

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth recalls the integration of the Catholic orders, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth recalls the integration of the Catholic orders, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 13 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth talks about the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 4 Story: 14 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth recalls editing the magazine for the Oblate Sisters of Providence

Tape: 4 Story: 15 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth remembers the construction of the Our Lady of Mount Providence in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth recalls her role at Mount Providence Junior College in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth talks about her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth describes her perspective as an African American nun

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth recalls the National Black Sisters' Conference

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth remembers Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s death

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth talks about black liberation theology

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth recalls closing Mount Providence College

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth remembers founding a child development center

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth recalls obtaining her Ph.D. degree from the Catholic University of America

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth remembers her election as superior general of the Oblate Sisters of Providence

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth recalls editing 'Rise 'n' Shine: Catholic Education and the African American Community'

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth describes the challenges in recruiting nuns to the Oblate Sisters of Providence, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 13 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth describes the challenges in recruiting nuns to the Oblate Sisters of Providence, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth shares her hopes for the future of the religious orders

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth reflects upon her Catholic faith

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth reflects upon her life

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth talks about ecumenism

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth describes her family

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$3

DAStory

1$11

DATitle
Sister Mary Alice Chineworth remembers her arrival at Saint Frances Church and Convent in Baltimore, Maryland
Sister Mary Alice Chineworth remembers the Oblate Sisters of Providence's property
Transcript
So, well what was the experience like? I mean did you, I mean did the experience meet your expectations? I mean what, what was it like? Was it, was it a, too become involved in an order [Oblate Sisters of Providence]?$$You know, from the minute, I can still remember September 14, 1936, on Chase Street in Baltimore [Maryland], I had come by train, my, my father [Alexander Chineworth, Sr.] had gotten me a first class bedroom or whatever it is, he didn't want me to be Jim Crowed, he know that--he knew enough to do that, you know? He wasn't that naive about travel.$$Well I thought you did, didn't have a choice at a certain point and when you got to the South there they would--$$He knew I was going south of the Mason-Dixon Line, so he got me into a first class accommodation bedroom or whatever it is.$$Oh, so they couldn't segregate you if you were--?$$No.$$Okay.$$So I got that, I came in first class, I got off at B and O [Baltimore and Ohio Railroad] station, which was just a walking distance from the convent [Saint Frances Church and Convent, Baltimore, Maryland], but I didn't know that and I hailed a cab and the cab took me like around the block to the--and he said, "Are you entering the convent or the academy [Saint Frances Academy, Baltimore, Maryland]?" So I must have looked kind of youngish, I was wearing a suit that I had knitted, you know what knitting is? I knitted the whole suit, skirt and, and jacket, navy blue and the trim was red, I wore a red hat and I said I'm entering the convent, he said, "Oh, well this is where you get out." So I went in and rang the doorbell and the sister who opened the door had a big red birthmark on half her face, and I said, "Oh my, they took her in spite of that birthmark?" 'Cause I thought nuns had to be perfect, you know? So, she said, "Do you--I'm, just sit here and I'll get mother for you." I said, "Mother?" 'Cause we never had any mothers in the order that I was taught by [Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary], so I sat there obediently and along came mother and she had the whole half of her face was de- deformed by lupus and I said, maybe they have to have something wrong with your face to enter here, you know? Two out of two, so I sa- she said, "Now dear tell me your real name? First of all, tell me your real name." I said, "Innocence [HistoryMaker Sister Mary Alice Chineworth]." "I mean your baptismal name?" I said, "I'm baptized Innocence." Well she didn't believe it, anyway, it was legal, so she took me downstairs, they were eating supper, September 14th it was Monday, and it was the first day that they were back in school and in school, when we were in school, we used to have reading like in monasticism, they setup monastic tables, long tables and there was one person appointed to read from a lectern during the meal. So I saw her go up to the reader and tell her she doesn't have to read, she wanted me to be comfortable and I wouldn't have been comfortable at, had I heard reading, so she stopped. So then she gave me a place at table and they had meat, cold cuts, tomatoes and lettuce, I remember so well the whole, because it's the best supper, we had it the whole week, you know, I didn't know at that time, but I enjoyed the supper and I was excited and they introduced me to my companions who then, I was the last to enter because I didn't want to enter right away so I, I'd been to a party, September 8th was my entrance date and then my mother [Victoria Schlicker Chineworth] had taken me to a party in Indianapolis, Indiana and I didn't rush home so I was a week late. So all my companions had gotten here and they were settled you know? So I was a late comer and I thought that would keep me from saying, making my vows with rest of 'em, but they didn't penalize me for that eight days, those eight days. So, I had the most unique feeling as I walked through that gate, I'm home, I felt so at home and at peace, I cannot exp- it's--the only comparison with that is when I went to Madagascar, I just felt, this is it, I'm home and I cried when I left Madagascar, now I don't know whether it's, that's all imagination or not, but that's how I felt. Well that's how I felt when I entered the convent, I just felt so at home.$This is 1936, you joined this order [Oblate Sisters of Providence], now where did you join, in?--$$On Chase Street, which is in the inner city--$$He- here in Baltimore [Maryland] (simultaneous)?$$--(simultaneous) it's the old motherhouse.$$Here in Baltimore?$$Yeah, the old motherhouse was called Saint Frances Convent [Saint Frances Church and Convent, Baltimore, Maryland] and academy [Saint Frances Academy, Baltimore, Maryland], it, it, it really was a trifle thing 'cause at one time we had orphans, so it was an orphanage, too. But when I entered it was simply an academy and the convent, the motherhouse that was really very crowded with novices and students and sisters. So, when then got a chance to by this property out here in 1933, mother superior was approached by the lawyer, Mr. Galvin [ph.], he said, "Mother, there's a property out in (unclear) that you can't afford to miss and it's on sale for," I forget what amount, what amount it was, but it was more than Mother had. But eventually, it didn't sell, it was the Depression [Great Depression], so eventually it came down to such a low price that Mother said she couldn't afford not to buy it. So she had three bonds and in cashing in the three bonds, she had just enough to buy the property, forty-six acres, a couple of buildings were on it, a mansion, which burned down in 1946, electrical wiring and a barn and a couple of other buildings there. But, we couldn't build this house for ye- decades af- after that, you know, it just, we had ride out the depression. Then one day sister said to mother superior, "Mother I know how I can get you a million dollars." And she said, "How can you get a million dollars?" She said, "We'll make aprons and sell 'em for a dollar a piece, I'll make a million aprons and we'll have a million dollars." Mother said, "Go ahead." So, we sold, made and stitched and sold aprons for some years, we, we couldn't visit home, but we knew that if we took a sales at our home, like have a Avon [Avon Products Inc.] sale. That our parents would be glad to support that because we couldn't home, at home any other way, so we had all over the country, we had sales, and we financed the building of this place [Our Lady of Mount Providence, Baltimore, Maryland], it cost a million dollars to build it, now it would cost many million, you know, but in those days it cost only one million dollars, the ground was broken in '58 [1958], I believe it was, you know, my dates are, take all this with a grain of salt.$$Okay.$$But we moved in in 1960 [sic. 1961].$$Okay.$$I moved in with the first crowd.

Sister Patricia Ralph

Sister Patricia Anne Ralph was born on August 15, 1960, in Jersey City, New Jersey. Ralph attended elementary and junior high school at Blessed Sacrament Catholic School in Newark, New Jersey. While attending junior high school, in the eighth grade she decided she would dedicate her life to God and become a nun. In 1979, she earned her high school diploma from Benedictine Academy, a private Catholic school in Elizabeth, New Jersey. While in high school she was a cheerleader, baton twirler and a member of the dance team.

In 1985, Ralph graduated from Jersey City State College where she earned her degree in teaching. This same year she entered the Community of St. Joseph to begin her journey as a nun. There, Ralph became known as “Sister Patty” to her friends and the hundreds of students she’s taught. Currently, out of 1200 nuns, she is the only African American nun in the St. Joesph community.

In 1988, Ralph received and her first teaching assignment at St. Martin De Porres Catholic School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she taught first grade. Two years later, she was missioned to Holy Family Catholic School in Hilcrest Heights, Maryland where she was a first and second grade teacher. The following year, Ralph accepted a teaching position at Holy Name Catholic, School in Washington, D.C. She continued to teach at Holy Name for the next five years until she was named principal, a position she continues to hold today.

In 1994, she made her final vows in Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania, thus completing her journey to become a nun. Surprisingly, her twin sister, Lynne Marie, decided to follow in Ralph’s footsteps and also became a nun although entering a different community, the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament.

Ralph currently resides in Washington, D.C. Her twin sister is also a teaching nun at an elementary school in Memphis, Tennessee.

Accession Number

A2004.049

Sex

Female

Interview Date

5/17/2004

Last Name

Ralph

Organizations
Schools

Blessed Sacrament School

Benedictine Academy

Jersey City State College

Xavier University of Louisiana

Trinity College

First Name

Patricia

Birth City, State, Country

Jersey City

HM ID

RAL01

Favorite Season

Fall

State

New Jersey

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

Little rugrats.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

8/15/1960

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Hamburgers

Short Description

Elementary school principal and nun Sister Patricia Ralph (1960 - ) is the only African American nun in the Community of St. Joseph. Ralph is currently a school principal in Washington, D.C.

Employment

Holy Name School

St. Martin De Porres High School

Holy Family Parish Elementary School

Blessed Sacrament School

Favorite Color

Periwinkle

Timing Pairs
0,0:616,7:1155,15:1771,25:2464,36:6006,78:8162,145:8470,150:9086,159:10626,189:11319,200:11704,206:12012,211:13013,227:16093,299:16940,315:17556,324:18634,341:19250,351:19866,360:20174,365:20790,375:22253,395:22946,405:24178,426:25025,439:25795,452:31906,479:34846,525:35182,530:36106,551:36862,565:39214,597:41314,640:41734,646:43498,680:43918,686:49042,766:51310,801:52234,814:52654,820:53242,828:54166,846:67582,1007:71640,1037:72120,1045:72840,1057:73160,1062:74840,1094:75960,1123:76520,1130:78040,1153:78600,1162:79560,1179:79960,1185:87400,1316:87960,1324:88920,1340:91720,1425:92120,1431:93080,1447:93640,1455:93960,1460:94680,1470:96280,1493:96840,1501:97480,1510:105030,1519:105660,1529:106290,1541:107550,1564:113590,1633:114878,1651:123793,1756:124148,1762:129189,1878:130396,1905:134852,1947:142252,2104:158855,2301:164890,2350:171010,2443:171370,2448:179398,2527:180300,2540:181202,2554:193050,2728$0,0:720,12:1200,19:2080,32:2400,37:2960,73:3520,82:3840,87:4320,96:4640,101:5280,110:5680,116:8080,162:8800,172:9680,187:10240,199:11200,215:12640,241:13200,250:22510,375:24190,399:26626,440:26962,445:28558,470:28978,477:29314,482:29818,489:32338,529:32758,535:33430,543:34102,552:35026,565:35362,570:35698,575:43050,618:43515,624:44259,632:45747,655:48036,672:54597,766:56136,792:56865,803:57513,814:58404,829:59376,843:60024,852:66741,915:67073,920:69231,956:70393,974:76992,1036:83440,1145:84376,1155:87392,1214:92939,1299:100890,1349:109451,1426:109727,1431:110486,1446:111521,1467:111797,1472:112349,1483:118973,1617:119249,1622:120146,1637:120560,1644:122768,1685:123527,1703:123803,1708:130412,1752:132320,1771:132850,1777:133274,1782:133910,1789:140300,1879
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Patricia Ralph interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Patricia Ralph's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Patricia Ralph remembers her mother

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Patricia Ralph remembers her father

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Patricia Ralph remembers her grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Patricia Ralph discusses her family life, part I

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Patricia Ralph recalls her childhood environs

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Patricia Ralph talks more about her family life

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Patricia Ralph reflects on her early school years

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Patricia Ralph discusses her calling to the sisterhood

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Patricia Ralph reflects on her junior high school years

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Patricia Ralph recalls her high school years

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Patricia Ralph describes her high school activities

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Patricia Ralph discusses her parents' occupations

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Patricia Ralph recounts her college years

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Patricia Ralph discusses her beginnings with the Sisters of St. Joseph

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Patricia Ralph discusses her trials in the sisterhood

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Patricia Ralph describes her coursework at Xavier University of Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Patricia Ralph discusses her advancement in the Sisters of St. Joseph

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Patricia Ralph reviews her career as an educator

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Patricia Ralph recalls making her final vows

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Patricia Ralph reflects on her sister's similar occupational choice

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Patricia Ralph shares her experiences as an African American nun

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Patricia Ralph discusses her tenure as principal of Holy Name School, Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Patricia Ralph describes the environs of Holy Name School, Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Patricia Ralph describes interactions with her students

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Patricia Ralph reflects on her life's course

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Patricia Ralph describes life in the sisterhood

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Patricia Ralph discusses her relationship with her students

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Patricia Ralph discusses changes in the Catholic Church

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Patricia Ralph discusses her twin sister

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Patricia Ralph talks more about her life's course

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Patricia Ralph expresses her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Patricia Ralph reflects on how she wants to be remembered

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Patricia Ralph shares her thoughts on history

Tape: 3 Story: 13 - Patricia Ralph considers her legacy

Tape: 3 Story: 14 - Patricia Ralph reflects on life obstacles

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Photo - Patricia Ralph and her twin sister as infants, ca. 1961

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Photo - Patricia Ralph's mother, aunts and uncles, 1980s

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Photo - Patricia Ralph's grandparents and uncle, 1920s

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Photo - Patricia Ralph's aunt, Daisy Fleming's eighth grade graduation portrait, ca. 1940-1959

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Photo - Patricia Ralph's grandparents, ca. 1960-1979

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Photo - Patricia Ralph's mother on her wedding day, January 29, 1954

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Photo - Patricia Ralph's aunt, Daisy Fleming as a child, ca. 1920s

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Photo - Patricia Ralph's great aunt Lila Mae, ca. 1940s

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Photo - Patricia Ralph's Aunt Lily and her husband, ca. 1940s

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Photo - Patricia Ralph and U.S. Congressman John Boehner of Ohio at an event dinner, Washington, D.C., 2003

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Photo - Patricia Ralph and U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy at an event dinner, Washington, D.C., 2003

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Photo - Patricia Ralph with her twin sister on the day of her final vows, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1994

Tape: 4 Story: 13 - Photo - Patricia Ralph with her twin sister and two priests at a conference, 1996

Tape: 4 Story: 14 - Photo - Patricia Ralph with her superior general at her final vows ceremony, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1994

Tape: 4 Story: 15 - Photo - Patricia Ralph celebrates with other sisters after making final vows, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1994

Tape: 4 Story: 16 - Photo - Patricia Ralph celebrates with family members after making final vows, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1994

Tape: 4 Story: 17 - Photo - Patricia Ralph's grandfather, ca. 1967-1968

Tape: 4 Story: 18 - Photo - Patricia Ralph with her mother and twin sister outside of Kless Diner, Irvington, New Jersey

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

7$1

DATitle
Patricia Ralph discusses her advancement in the Sisters of St. Joseph
Patricia Ralph discusses her tenure as principal of Holy Name School, Washington, D.C.
Transcript
We had started talking a little bit about when--in 1985--when you entered the community of [Sisters of] St. Joseph [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania], what happened next? So after--so tell us a little bit about what that process is like.$$Well once I entered, I was a postulant, and that's the beginning stages. And we attended classes with our director, learning more about the community and doing community services. One of my services was working at a shelter, getting on the el train and going, going there. I think we did that once a week. But we also took the responsibilities of leading the community in prayer and I think there were about seventeen of us that lived in the house with professed sisters and the postulant sisters. And, once again, some of the sisters were older sisters and you listening to their stories also that were an influence on me and they would say, "Oh Patty, you just don't know." (laughs) And I'd say "Okay, Sister Elizabeth." You know, and just--just their gentleness, that was their present.$$And, tell me what it was like when you made your final vows. When did that happen?$$Well, before final vows, then we--I became a novice, and so I moved from St. Michael's to the motherhouse, and--as I call the corporate headquarters. And, again, we had a novice directress. We had classes with her and we also went out to a place called Marian [Convent, Scranton, Pennsylvania], and we met other people who were novices from different communities and we had classes together with the different groups, and that was, like, once a week, every Thursday. And, being at the motherhouse, we had to lead morning prayer or evening prayer and had to get on the altar into the mic, and I'm looking out, "Oh, my God," (laughs) the first time I did it. But I remember one sister saying to me, she said, "I always like it when you do prayer, cause I can always hear you." And she sits in the back--an older sister. So, I guess it was the way I was projecting my voice, or something, I don't know. But, we used to do fun things with the older sisters--cause there were a lot of sisters that lived at the motherhouse. So I was there for one year and then we were missioned--we were still novices but we were missioned. So I was missioned to St. Martin de Porres [School], in Philadelphia, and I taught--no, I interned there first, with first grade--first grade, fifth grade and kindergarten. And kindergarten was my best experience. I mean the teacher, Joanne, she was excellent. And, that was for September to December, and then I had to decide--.$$(Simultaneously) Of what year?$$Of what year? I would say late '80s [1980s]--I wanna say '88 [1988]--between '87 [1987] and '88 [1988] of that year.$How did you become principal of Holy Name [School, Washington, D.C.] and when did that happen?$$That happened three years ago. Sister Owen was the principal for seventeen years, and she knew it was time for her to move on and she wanted to pass the torch. And, she asked me if I would consider it, and my first response was "No, I do not want that job." But she wanted to keep a religious in the school and I finally said, "Yes." And I keep telling her it must have been a weak moment when I said yes. So, actually, I'm the first African American principal at Holy Name School.$$Are you the--and, assumingly, the first African American religious, as well?$$In--?$$At Holy Name School.$$At Holy Name, yes. And we--the school was established in 1924, so I'm the first one.$$And tell me a little bit about your students, your kids and your families here.$$I love my kids and I love my families. My families are very supportive. Anything I need, I can always call--call them up. The kids I love, and with Pre-K and Kindergarten, I call 'em--"I'm not going down there--I'm not going down there." (Laughs). But my Pre-K, Kindergarten--she's excellent with them and I give her a lot of credit. I say, "You are going to heaven--that--that's an automatic--you are going to heaven." But the kids, they come from Maryland, Virginia--one comes from Baltimore [Maryland], and, a lot from [Washington] D.C.--the D.C. area, and, they bring a lot to school. And you can tell from their family whatever it is that they're going through that they're carrying a heavy burden on us, but they know that they're safe here in this environment no matter what surrounds them. And they also know that the teachers care about them, also, and they can feel free to come to anyone and speak with anyone about anything that's going on. And just being--being there for our kids is so important.

Sister Constance Murphy

Born in Baltimore on February 2, 1904, into a middle-class family in the newspaper publishing industry, Sister Constance Murphy elected not to stay in the family business. After graduating from high school, Murphy moved to Philadelphia to attend the University of Pennsylvania, where she graduated with a B.S. in education in 1928. She would later return to school at the University of Michigan to earn a master's degree at the age of seventy-three.

Murphy felt her religious calling most strongly after attending a passion play in Oberammagau, Germany in 1930. Returning to Baltimore, she attended a presentation by the Sisters of St. John the Divine, an Anglican order of nuns based in Canada, in 1932. Four years later, she traveled north to Toronto to join the order. In 1938, she was sent to teach at the Qu'Appelle Diocesan School in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. While there, she rose to the position of headmistress and returned to the Toronto convent in 1955. Murphy was named administrator of the Church Home for the Aged in Toronto in 1958, a position she held until 1972.

At the age of ninety-four, Murphy published a book of her memoirs, Other Little Ships, and a year later visited the Holy Land for the first time. She has also co-authored several books of prayer and hymns. Murphy has been honored for her work on many occasions and continues to work diligently today. On her 105th birthday Murphy was recognized as the oldest American in Canada by Consul General John R. Nay.

Sister Constance Murphy passed away on August 2, 2013.

Accession Number

A2003.116

Sex

Female

Interview Date

6/3/2003

Last Name

Murphy

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
Schools

University of Pennsylvania

First Name

Constance

Birth City, State, Country

Baltimore

HM ID

MUR04

Favorite Season

None

State

Maryland

Favorite Vacation Destination

Muskoka, Ontario, Canada

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Ontario

Birth Date

2/2/1904

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Toronto

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Death Date

8/2/2013

Short Description

Nun Sister Constance Murphy (1904 - 2013 ) served the Anglican Church of Canada for over seventy years and wrote a book of memoirs entitled Other Little Ships. On her 105th birthday Murphy became the oldest American living in Canada.

Employment

Qu'appelle Diocesan School

Church Home for the Aged

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
0,0:6913,88:25640,281:27642,332:28412,341:43707,542:63683,749:64996,767:66107,785:125630,1471:136890,1603$0,0:1441,22:6940,73:7864,87:10888,131:13996,173:14500,180:19876,210:45675,521:63468,682:97610,965:125103,1299:126854,1324:146574,1529:152892,1626:177380,1911
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Sister Constance Murphy's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Sister Constance Murphy lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Sister Constance Murphy describes her family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Sister Constance Murphy talks about her grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Sister Constance Murphy describes her grandfather, John H. Murphy, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Sister Constance Murphy describes her grandfather, John H. Murphy, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Sister Constance Murphy describes her grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Murphy, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Sister Constance Murphy describes her grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Murphy, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Sister Constance Murphy talks about the notable people her grandparents entertained

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Sister Constance Murphy describes her father, George Murphy

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Sister Constance Murphy describes her father's career

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Sister Constance Murphy recalls her maternal grandparents

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Sister Constance Murphy describes her mother and grandparents

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Sister Constance Murphy remembers her grandparents' catering company

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Sister Constance Murphy describes her childhood activities

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Sister Constance Murphy talks about her book "Other Little Ships"

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Sister Constance Murphy shares family memories

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Sister Constance Murphy shares her memories of school

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Sister Constance Murphy remembers her school teachers, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Sister Constance Murphy remembers her school teachers, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Sister Constance Murphy describes her school activities

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Sister Constance Murphy talks about her career aspirations in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Sister Constance Murphy describes her graduation from high school

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Sister Constance Murphy talks about her decision to attend the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Sister Constance Murphy describes attending the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Sister Constance Murphy describes attending the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Sister Constance Murphy talks about Delta Sigma Theta Sorority

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Sister Constance Murphy describes her troubled friend, Hilda

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Sister Constance Murphy describes going to Europe in 1929 with her friend, Hilda

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Sister Constance Murphy recalls returning to Europe to see the Passion play in 1930

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Sister Constance Murphy describes being influenced by the nuns she knew as a child

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Sister Constance Murphy recalls orphanages in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Sister Constance Murphy describes why she became a nun

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Sister Constance Murphy talks about race and the convents in Maryland

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Sister Constance Murphy talks about sisters she admired as a child

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Sister Constance Murphy describes her training at the convent

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Sister Constance Murphy talks about her teaching career

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Sister Constance Murphy reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Sister Constance Murphy shares her advice to young people

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Sister Constance Murphy describes her lack of regrets in life

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Sister Constance Murphy describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Sister Constance Murphy narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

6$8

DATitle
Sister Constance Murphy recalls returning to Europe to see the Passion play in 1930
Sister Constance Murphy describes her lack of regrets in life
Transcript
Okay, so you just stayed for the summer?$$No, it was the next summer too because it our passports were good for two years and the next year was the year of the passion play 1930. You know the Passion play?$$--(simultaneous)--$$$$All the sessions are on number ending in 0; so 1930 came up and we had passports, and they we good for only one more year$$The Passion play is about the death of Christ right?$$The death of Christ, his passion, and it last all day long, and Thomas Cookinson. You know Thomas Cookinson?$$No.$$They sell--they have charge of travel. It was every ten years, so right away, the sister said to Hilda and me "you got to learn some Italian" so we studied Italian, and we read all about Florence and we knew all the places--the special places of interest, and we studied all the places of importance, Pompe, and Rome and so we went off to Italy for summer 1929 and used our passports the next year because it was the Passion play, and we went the next year and we had two friends, learning music in Vienna, and I had my classmate from Penn [University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] , who lived in Nuremberg, so we went to Nuremberg, and we had wonderful two summers, just wonderful because we had, they taught us the place, how to really visit, and how to get the greatest joy, and knowledge and so far. After a while--my last year in Europe that I got there, I got the idea that I was going to be a sister too, and when I came home from Florence, I didn't tell anybody, but I was going to be a sister--so all that year, then the following year, and then I went in.$Now is there anything that you would have done differently in life?$$No, because I was still fortunately allowed to teach. I love teaching and I nearly always--so I taught Sunday School, and I taught ordinary school. I taught Algebra. I taught History. I ran a boarding school and my father was a great teacher; and my brother who just died--they are full of articles in the paper about him and how he was trying to get rid of race prejudice, how he was getting people to help one another--my father--my brother, who just died, trained a number of people unwittingly, unconsciously, to become lawyers and he--I'm collecting all the articles I can in the papers--the story of my brother is in many, many papers, and they'll be in magazines, how he wanted to break down race prejudice, wanted to help young men learn about the law, and what a gratitude is owned him for the things he did. And his field is the same as in my field. We aren't just born. We feel that God has a place for us, a reason for us, and He throws us into that channel. I mean I must've wanted to be a sister. I was attracted to the sisterhood; and there were sisters there to show me how to do this, to show me how to do the other and so forth. And you go, and that's how life develops. And children learn from their parents. Children learn relationships and things get done; and they learn to be selfless, and not after their own will, but of higher will, and a call. And sometimes there is nobody in the city where you are. Sometimes you get called out of the country, out of the continent, off to Africa or someplace, and you feel that's your call; and you don't hear a voice, but you feel that you want to serve, serve, serve. And you can't put your finger on it, but you want to serve; you want to be useful; you want to be God's handmaid or God's lad or what. And it goes on and not a thing that has any written rules.