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Smith Libraries Exhibits

Mother Mary Joseph

Mother Mary Joseph, 1950.

After Mary Rogers graduated from Smith College in 1905, she stayed on working towards a Master of Science degree and served as a demonstrator in the Zoology Department and the head of an off-campus house.

During 1906 she developed a series of bible study classes that earned the interest of the Society of the Propagation of the Faith in Boston. The Director of the Society was so engaged by her commitment that he asked her to do editorial work for the new publication, The Field Afar, which later became the Maryknoll.

After leaving Northampton in 1908, Rogers attended the Boston Normal School and taught in the public schools. Being in Boston allowed her to be closer to the Society of the Propagation of the Faith and its work.

A few years later she became part of a group of women who were helping the early missionary endeavors of the U.S. Catholic Church. Rogers was soon recognized as the first leader of the group and, as Mother Mary Joseph, she founded the Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic, a group of Catholic Sisters dedicated to missionary work overseas.

Today Maryknoll Sisters serve in countries throughout the world in religious formation, health education, leadership training, refugee work, promotion of women's causes, medical work, education, ecology, and other ministries. For more information about the history of the Maryknoll Sisters, visit their website at