BOSTON -- Emmanuel College honored educator and missionary Sister Mary Alice McCabe, SNDdeN with an honorary doctorate at its 96th Commencement Exercises on May 12 in recognition of her more than four decades of work on behalf of rural farming communities in Latin America.
Inspired by the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, Sister Mary Alice, a graduate of Emmanuel College, answered the call to serve as a missionary in the coastal region of Maceio in northeastern Brazil. There, she helped poor communities fight for their basic rights to land, education and healthcare.
The college honored Sister Mary Alice for her "unwavering will to uplift those living on the margins of our global society." Gathering farming and fishing families into base Christian communities, she and other sisters accompanied them as they struggled to free themselves from oppressive and violent landowners.
Speaking to the graduates of Emmanuel College's class of 2018, Sister Mary Alice spoke of the unbreakable spirit of the people of Latin America. How, equipped with faith and courage, they built a community of faith and action -- organizing themselves into grassroots organizations, farming cooperatives, women artisan groups, Bible study groups and more.
"It has been a great grace to walk with the people of Latin America," she said.
The Sisters of Notre Dame have a long history in the region, ministering to communities in Brazil, Nicaragua, Peru and other countries. "As all of us like to say, 'We have received much more than we have given,"' said Sister Mary Alice.
Twenty Sisters, including Emmanuel College president Sister Janet Eisner, SNDdeN, Sister Teresita Weind, SDNdeN, congregational leader of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur worldwide, and others who ministered in Latin America were present at commencement events to celebrate Sister Mary Alice's honor.
Sister Mary Alice continues to give a voice to the people of Maceio today, through her recently published book, "Our Struggle Was a Sacred Struggle." The book, first published in Portuguese and then translated, contains the oral histories of more than 60 men and women and highlights the challenges and triumphs they experienced in their effort to secure land rights during the 1980s.
The college also conferred honorary degrees on its commencement speaker, sports journalist and author Jackie MacMullan, and longtime MCPHS University president Charles F. Monahan Jr. Emmanuel College conferred more than 500 undergraduate and graduate students with degrees in the sciences, liberal arts and humanities, business, nursing and education.