MY FIRST SEVENTY YEARS by Sister M. Madeleva


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Poet and educator, Sister Madeleva has been, for the past twenty-five years, president of St. Mary's College in Notre Dame. Her biography, she assures us, is not a story of a nun on her prie-dieu. Written with simple grace, quiet dignity and deceptively easy discernment this is a warm and rich remembrance of accomplishment and growth. She was born in 1887 in Cumberland, Wisconsin, and was baptized Mary Evaline Wolff. Her father was a harness-maker, proud of his craft, and she recalls delightful days among the treasures of his shop, the full and simple life in southern Wisconsin during the 1890's. In 1904 she graduated from high school, a year later went to the University of Wisconsin, joining her brother there. After a year she transferred to St. Mary's, at first finding the regulations of the French boarding school difficult to take but finally acquiescing enough to join their Holy Cross novitiate, dismaying her father who was not a Catholic. She recounts her early days at St. Mary's as a young teacher, her profession in 1914, the first publication of her verse while a Master's student at Notre Dame. By 1925 she had received the doctorate from Berkeley, the only sister to have done so up to that time. She started a college for women in Salt Lake City and by 1933 was in Europe at Oxford. In 1934 she returned to St. Mary's and was responsible for the founding of the first School of Sacred Theology in the U.S. for lay people. Heightened by a vitality and a quietly feminine idealism this is a record of a full and significant life.

Pub Date: Feb. 3rd, 1959
Publisher: Macmillan