Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 24, 2000
B.C. sister was first woman chancellor
By ANH HOANG
WCR Staff Writer
Sister Katherine Meagher, the first female chancellor of a Canadian diocese, died Dec. 28 at the age of 85.
"She told me that she thinks she might have been the first (female chancellor) in the world," said Bishop Emmett Doyle, the former bishop of Nelson, B.C., who appointed Meagher to the post.
In 1976, at the invitation of Doyle, Meagher became chancellor of the Nelson Diocese. She would later become the first woman in Nelson to be judge and director of the diocese's marriage tribunal.
Doyle had n ever met Meagher prior to naming her as his chancellor.
"I had a friend in the community who told me about her," said Doyle, who now lives in Edmonton. "She had just completed her doctorate in canon law and I was needing someone (in the Nelson Diocese) who knew canon law."
Meagher completed her master's and doctorate in canon law at St. Paul's University in Ottawa. Her thesis was on the The Status of Women in the Post-Conciliar Church.
Doyle didn't blink an eye when considering a woman for the position. He had been chancellor in the Edmonton Archdiocese and "I knew what the role had to be. It's not an easy job and I said that to all the priests (in Nelson) when I asked (Meagher) to be chancellor and none of them had any objections.
"She turned out to be a tremendous asset to the diocese. She was very capable, easy to work with and for. She was competent in dealing with people and the priests were very happy to have someone like her in the (chancery) office."
Being chancellor was part of a long list of administrative accomplishments on Meagher's curriculum vitae.
She was general secretary of her order, the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent De Paul (Halifax), she was a professor, then head of the business department at what is now Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax. She has also taught in New York and Massachusetts.
After making her first profession at Easter 1938, Meagher served in various ministries in Vancouver, Kelowna, and Edmonton where she taught a summer canon law course at Newman Theological College.