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Archive Visit Number Six: The Intangible Contributions of Extraordinary Women

Cassie Bendel

Posted on November 15 2020

Archive Visit Number Six: The Intangible Contributions of Extraordinary Women

With the news that Kamala Harris will serve as the next Vice President of the United States, women everywhere are feeling excited about the prospect of a woman in the White House. Our founder, Vanessa, is especially excited to see someone of her own South Indian heritage take on the role. Whether you stand by Harris’s politics or not, the election of a woman to the second-highest office in the United States represents a moment in our history that we’ve felt in our hearts all along: the contributions women make to the world matter.

                In the late 1980’s, Sister Joanne Gonter was asked to provide a list to the Diocese of Wheeling Charleston of the contributions Mount de Chantal graduates had made to the State of West Virginia. Sister’s response is below. She lists the professional achievements Mount alumnae had made within the 50 years prior and notes that one of the largest impacts Mount de Chantal has made can’t always be seen.

                “It’s is very intangible, but the sisters’ presence as a praying and concerned community is felt by many persons in the area and beyond,” Sr. Joanne wrote.

October 26, 1988

Dear Father Cullinane, 

The request we have received from you makes me wish we had time to do a through study before replying to your inquiry.... 

Obviously the major contribution made by Mount de Chantal Visitation Academy to the state of West Virginia is that being made by our alumna who  live in the state. In a very quick review of alumnae who have graduated in the 50 years between 1935 & 1985, I have noted that we have at least the following numbers of alumnae currently serving in the professions listed:

40 Education - Teachers & administrators, at all levels, including college: this includes teachers of music

20 Health - Nursing, lab technicians, dental hygienists, one doctor

8 Law (three of our alumnae attorneys, practice in the Charleston area; three are here in Wheeling, and of of those is our city solicitor) 

3 Media - two are in TV and the other is city editor of Wheeling's evening paper

3 Social services - this number is a low estimate

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The total of the above, 74, represents approximately 15%-20% of the total of Mount de Chantal alumnae currently living in West Virginia. (Our graduating classes are small- this year's is 27, but many classes in previous years have been considerably smaller.) 

Here in Wheeling our contribution in addition to that made by our students (e.g., in our required community service course) and by individual sisters (we serve in various capacities -- examples: Martin Luther King, Jr. Committee of the Upper Ohio Valley; area taskforce on drugs and young people) is perhaps most obvious in the fields of art and music. Our facilities as well as our personnel are an integral and respected part of the Ohio Valley's fine arts education network.

Finally, it is very intangible, but the sisters' presence as a praying and concerned community is felt by many persons in the area and beyond.

I hope this is of some help to you and once again I extend a cordial invitation to you and any others working on your project to visit Mount de Chantal.

With best wishes from at Mount de Chantal,

Sister Joanne Gonter, VHM

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If you wish to donate to our MdeC archive project. Please buy us a cup of coffee

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