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Coughlin, Mary Samuel, Mother


Religious superior, educator; b. Faribault, Minn., April 7, 1868; d. Sinsinawa, Wis., Oct. 17, 1959. She was the daughter of Daniel and Ellen (O'Mahoney) Coughlin. After graduating in 1885 from Bethlehem Academy, Faribault, she entered the Congregation of the Most Holy Rosary and received the habit on Aug. 15, 1886. She taught for several years in parish schools and then was elected bursar general (1901) of the congregation, and prioress (1904) of St. Clara Convent, Sinsinawa. On the death of Mother Emily power in 1909, Sister Mary Samuel assumed the interim duties of superior general; she was elected mother general in August 1910. During the 39 years of her administration, 1,450 sisters made profession and 63 foundations were established. St. Clara College was transferred to River Forest, Ill., and incorporated (1918) as Rosary College. Edgewood College of the Sacred Heart, Madison, Wis., was established in 1927 to provide professional and liberal education for sisters and secular women. Villa des Fougères, Fribourg, Switzerland, was purchased in 1917 as a European house of studies and after 1924 provided facilities for the Rosary College Junior Year Abroad. In 1948 the Pius XII Institute, a graduate school of fine arts, was opened in Florence, Italy, at Villa Schifanoia, donated to the Holy See by Myron Taylor.

The diversity of Mother Samuel's interests was indicated by her cooperation in research projects conducted by the Institutum Divi Thomae, Cincinnati, Ohio, and by the Vatican Library, Rome. She also helped to prepare the curriculum, Guiding Growth in Christian Social Living, as part of the social action program of the Commission on American Citizenship of the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. She sent her sisters to American and European universities, fostered liturgical observance at the motherhouse and missions, and initiated (1924) vacation schools for religious instruction in the Diocese of Rockford, Ill. A catechetical center and five schools for African Americans and the reception of African-American applicants into the congregation testify to her racial attitude. Mother Samuel was granted (1932) an honorary degree of doctor of laws at Loyola University, Chicago, and served as first president of the American Dominican Mothers General Conference (193537).

Bibliography: m. e. mccarty, The Sinsinawa Dominicans: Outlines of Twentieth Century Development, 190149 (Sinsinawa, Wis. 1952).

[m. g. kelly]

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