Sister Mary Milligan
“It was in her heart that Mary discovered her own identity. She was at one and the same time daughter of the Father and daughter of her own people. From the rich symbol of the heart of Mary which has been given to us as an Institute, let us learn interiority, let us learn poverty and gentleness of heart.” (Sister Mary Milligan, 1982)
Sister Mary Milligan, RSHM, was born on January 23, 1935 in Los Angeles, California. She entered the Novitiate in New York and was later sent to the International Novitiate in Béziers, France.
She earned a B.A. in French at Marymount College in Tarrytown, N.Y. in 1956; an M.A. in sacred scripture at St. Mary’s College in Indiana in 1966; a Ph.D. in English at the L’Université de Paris in 1959; and in 1975, she was the first woman to receive her doctorate at the prestigious Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Her dissertation on the spirit-charism of Father Jean Gailhac provided a solid foundation for future research and study of R.S.H.M. history and spirituality. In 1988, she was awarded an honorary doctorate from Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia. She published numerous articles on subjects such as scripture, women in religion, spirituality, and the relationship between feminism and religion. She spoke and wrote in several languages and traveled extensively as part of her teaching, leadership, and scholarship; she was a leader in the Church, and represented the needs of women both locally and globally.
Sister Mary was elected Councilor during the second mandate of Sister Margarida Maria Gonçalves. In 1975, at the request of Sister Maria de Lourdes Machado, RSHM, Sister Mary coordinated the process of revising the Constitutions of the Institute. Working alongside of the Special Commission, Sister Mary gave the Constitutions their final form. They were accepted by the Vatican in their first draft. In 1980, the General Chapter elected Sister Mary as the 10th General Superior of the Institute of the Religious Sacred Heart of Mary.
Sister Mary was a participant in the International Synod on the Laity in Rome (1987) and one of the prime movers of the Synod process for the Diocese of Los Angeles (1987-9), for which she co-wrote the final draft, a document which would outline the direction of the Diocese in the years to come. In 1986, Mary moved to Loyola Marymount University. She assumed many roles at LMU, including professor of theology, provost (1986–1989), and dean of the College of Liberal Arts (1992-1997). She died on April 2, 2011 at the age of 76.
Loyola Marymount University created The Mary Milligan, RSHM Lecture in Spirituality hosted by the Department of Theological Studies. It honors the memory of Sister Mary Milligan, R.S.H.M., who served as professor of Theological Studies, provost, and dean at Loyola Marymount University.
For information about the Mary Milligan, RSHM Lecture in Spirituality, please visit: https://bellarmine.lmu.edu/theologicalstudies/initiatives/milligan/