Segments in this Video

Entering the Sisterhood (01:59)


Listen to an excerpt from a Maryknoll Sisters' journal entry from November 19, 1921. Sister Betty Ann Maheu believes that in her time, joining a religious community was the only way to serve humanity.

Contemplatives in Action (03:16)

Elizabeth Carr explains that Mother Mary Joseph paved the way for women to work overseas in a mutual and equal capacity with priests. Sister Madeline Dorsey describes what it was like with the Maryknoll Sisters. Amy Koehlinger explains that these were some of the most educated women in the U.S.

Overseas Assignments (02:06)

Sisters describe what it was like to work overseas. Sister Betty Ann Maheu explains the challenges in being assigned to China without knowledge of the language, customs, and culture.

Serving the People (01:59)

Betty Ann Maheu describes Bishop Ford's system to use the sisters to evangelize China in the villages. It is focused on serving the needs of the people rather than to institutionalize a church. Sister Paulita Hoffman describes physical challenges when out on missions.

Embracing the Culture (01:53)

Sisters describe challenges in learning oral and written language in China. Sister Janice McLaughlin explains that learning the culture was an emphasis.

Joy and Suffering (04:49)

In 1920, Maryknoll Sisters await Vatican approval to go overseas. During that time, they build a school for Japanese-American students who are facing discrimination. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese Americans are forced to close businesses, pack their belongings, and go to internment camps.

Monastic Training (02:03)

Sisters discuss the regulated lifestyle in their training and every-day life. They describe the challenges of needing and wanting basic and also frivolous things.

Geopolitical Conflict (01:50)

The Maryknoll sisters in China are evicted when the Communists take over in 1949. They have no contact with the outside world. Sisters describe the trying experience.

Hope in Hong Kong (02:15)

Every foreign missioner is expelled or leaves China by the end of 1952. Many of the sisters go to Hong Kong. Sisters describe their first impressions of the city.

New Kind of Ministry (03:32)

Sister Betty Ann Maheu describes the impacts on Hong Kong when refugees came to escape from Communist China. The Maryknoll Sisters open up a school and provide nourishment through a milk program. Catherine Rowe describes the dignity of the people she served.

Facing Disaster (02:57)

Sisters describe the fires that would result in Hong Kong refugee camps. Few lives are lost, but many end up without a home. Watch a news report about refugee homes built by Maryknoll Sisters.

Offers of Healing (04:34)

Sister Maria Rieckelman describes her experience posing for "Look Magazine." She explains that tuberculosis and pneumonia were the most prevalent in China.

Flexibility in Spirit (01:32)

Sister Catherine Rowe visits an old patient who is still thankful for her help. Amy Koehlinger describes the ad lib aspect of the Maryknoll Sisters' lives in China.

Seeing Hatred (04:32)

In 1955, the Maryknoll Sisters are given a hospital to operate in segregated Kansas City, Missouri. Sisters describe the racism of the time. Sisters describe their experience in Selma, 1965.

Building Confidence (04:00)

Sister Mary Paul McKenna opens Maryknoll Convent School in 1935. Sisters and students describe the beauty of the school.

Changing Idea of Missions (01:41)

Shelley Lee describes her education on compassion. Elizabeth Sinn explains that although most Chinese people didn't convert to Catholicism, they were better people because of the education provided by the Maryknoll Sisters.

1965 Ecumenical Council (01:58)

Sisters discuss the importance of Vatican II. Nun gowns are altered, and they are now asked to engage with the world rather than being set apart from it.

Awareness of Danger (04:20)

Sister Madeline Dorsey describes the war she saw in El Salvador. Archbishop Rombero becomes the voice of the poor and is killed. Four sisters are killed under suspicions of being part of the guerrilla movement.

Where the Need is Greatest (04:50)

A sister visits Kaying, China. She feels a strong link with her Maryknoll Sisters. Amy Koehlinger explains that although numbers of sisters is getting lower in the U.S. it is increasing in other areas of the world.

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Trailblazers in Habits: The Sisters who Stood up for Human Rights

DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



This film about the Maryknoll Sisters spans 100 years and several continents to relate the intelligence, tenacity and compassion of these early feminists. It weaves together the nuns' own affecting accounts of imprisonment and personal struggle with never before seen archival footage and poignant reminisces from the beneficiaries of their work.

Length: 58 minutes

Item#: BVL110725

ISBN: 978-1-68272-605-1

Copyright date: ©2014

Closed Captioned

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.

Not available to Home Video customers.

Only available in USA and Canada.