About the Exhibit

CALIFORNIA! Expansive, beautiful, diverse—on the cutting edge of a continent; of transition, technology, expression and innovation. Here since 1850, dynamic, pioneering women religious have responded to unparalleled challenges on the edge of possibility.

The Women & Spirit: Catholic Sisters in California exhibit features the amazing contributions Sisters have made in developing California’s church and society. The exhibit reflects the work of groups of strong women who forcefully placed their stamp on California life, and how the communities to which they belonged provided women with an outlet for grace, beauty, intellect and leadership.

Their story begins during the state’s chaotic founding years in the wake of the Gold Rush with Sisters providing social stability by creating a “safety net”—childcare centers, hospitals, schools, orphanages, homes for the elderly and working girls, and countless other charity institutions.

These women did not settle for salving social wounds; they worked to transform the source of these ills by actively participating in the struggle for social justice. Today, their work continues with widespread partnerships and collaborations.

The Sisters’ work with the poor and marginalized did not darken their view, but deepened their vision of the beauty of the world. Among other outlets, the Sisters responded by producing works of art, music and architecture.

The exhibit features photographs, text panels, and audio-visuals and can easily be augmented with various collections and artifacts. A list of suggested artifacts is available.

California has greatly benefited by the hard work of many women religious. This exhibit testifies to their efforts, without which the California of today would be a very different place.




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