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Walsh, Mary Rosalia


Religious educator, author, and lecturer; b. April 26, 1896; d. Jan. 21, 1982. Baptized Josephine Mary, but better known by her religious name, Sister Rosalia (sister of Bishop James walsh of Maryknoll), she entered the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart (MHSH) in 1916. Sister Rosalia was the chief author and promoter of the Adaptive Way Method of teaching religion, a program which greatly influenced elementary religion curriculum development in the United States. She received an M.A. from Fordham University in 1963 at the age of 67.

Her first work, Child Psychology and Religion (New York), a collection of talks on method, was published anonymously in 1937. She wrote an elementary religion course in 1939, entitled The Adaptive Way Course of Religious Instruction for Catholic Children Attending Public Schools, and in 1944 a methods text, Teaching Confraternity Classes, The Adaptive Way (Chicago). The method stressed adapting all religion teaching to the student's particular needs and to the circumstances under which students were taught. It was a concentric approach which divided lessons into units and encouraged graded classes. Walsh wrote over 30 articles on the subject between the years 1939 and 1959.

In 1947 the National Center for the confraternity of christian doctrine asked Walsh to head a committee to revise their School Year Religious Instruction Manual, making her the first Sister to chair a committee of the National Center. The result was The Confraternity School Year Religion Course, The Adaptive Way (SYCR) (Wash.,D.C.), published between 1949 and 1953. Walsh spoke at Catechetical Congresses sponsored by the National Center, and taught CCD methods courses around the country, including at The Catholic University of America in the Catholic Action Institute from 1947 to 1957.

An early and chief supporter of the CCD in the United States, Sister Rosalia has had a lasting influence on Catholic religious education through the Adaptive Way.

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