Thursday, April 20, 2006

Mother Mac

Word hasn't gotten too far around just yet, but Philadelphia's most prominent community of women religious chose a new head yesterday.

At their chapter of election, the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary tipped Sr Lorraine Mulgrew, IHM to be the next "Mother-General" -- the title is no longer used formally but, Philly being Philly, it's still routinely employed.

The IHMs, known too as "The Macs," have become legendary (and seemingly omnipresent) in these parts thanks to their place as the great teaching order of the parochial schools of the archdiocese and the wider region. Their exurban headquarters in Chester County is also home to Immaculata University, which was a single-sex college for girls until 2004. The "Mighty Macs" are remembered in sports circles for having swept the first three national Women's College Basketball Championships in 1972, 73 and 74.

As some of you will be curious, yes, the Macs remain a veiled community -- for the most part. The veil was made optional a few years back, but the broad majority of the sisters have maintained it.

The liturgy which opened the chapter was presided over by birthday boy Cardinal Justin Rigali, who turned 71 yesterday. As few things make Rigali happier than the presence of veiled women religious -- the cardinal is well-known as a staunch supporter of the cause -- we can be sure he had a very happy birthday. As always, all good wishes to the Boss.