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Women’s Rights Are Human Rights

A white woman and two Somali women at the Isuroon office.

Mary’s Pence celebrates 30 years of women-focused philanthropy.

St. Paul Magazine | May 2017 
By Erik Tormoen

In Late-’80s Chicago, a nun named Maureen Gallagher had an epiphany while vacuuming. Days before, she had gone to her prayer group, full of other Catholic women. Two sisters voiced frustration: The diocese had rejected their request for more funding to support their successful prison ministry.

Vacuuming, Gallagher imagined meeting God. “What did you do to help women?” God asked. She replied, “I’m a woman; I couldn’t do anything.” Again, God asked: “What did you do?”

Moved, Gallagher founded Mary’s Pence, a nonprofit that awards grants to small, community-based and women-led organizations across Canada and the U.S. Based today in Saint Paul, Mary’s Pence, which turns 30 this year, has stuck to its original mission: to aid women by following Catholic social teaching.

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