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Service in leadership

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Thank God for the nuns! Most of the canonized saints of this country have been women, and all of those were religious women, founders and pioneering leaders of their orders. The first American citizen to be canonized was St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, right after World War II. The first native-born American to be canonized was St. Elizabeth Anne Seton, in 1975. (Indeed, the two Americans who will be canonized this year were both religious women, soon-to-be St. Marianne Cope and soon-to-be St. Kateri Tekakwitha.)

They instilled and preserved the Catholic faith, serving the various human and spiritual needs of millions in schools, hospitals, orphanages, and various social-service agencies throughout our history, oftentimes with little recognition and support, oftentimes heroically. Sadly, sometimes even bishops and priests had misunderstandings and were not as solicitous of the welfare of their religious sisters as they should have been. Pope John Paul II in 1987, though, recognized in a meeting with Religious in San Francisco that "the spiritual vigor of so many Catholic people testifies to the efforts of generations of religious in this land. The history of the Church in this country is in large measure your history at the service of the service of God's people."

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