March is Women’s History Month, and we celebrate the fact that Mount de Sales Academy was founded by women, led by women, and educated only young women until 1959. This is a remarkable achievement especially considering that Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton had formed the National Woman Suffrage Association only eight years before the Sisters of Mercy received a charter for the Academy in 1876. It wasn’t until 1917 that the first woman, Jeannette Rankin of Montana, was elected to Congress, and three years later the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified giving women the right to vote.In 1951, twelve years before the Equal Pay Act was signed by President John F. Kennedy, prohibiting wage discrimination between men and women performing the same job in the same workplace, the women of Mount de Sales were celebrating the school’s Diamond Jubilee. The 75th anniversary festivities included Mass officiated by the Auxiliary Bishop of Savannah-Atlanta, a luncheon for the Sisters and clergy, and a pageant entitled “Blessed are the Merciful.” Friends and Sisters from around the country sent congratulations and well wishes by telegram.
A Macon Telegraph article about the celebration noted that “a unique feature of Mount de Sales Academy is that every member of its present faculty was at one time a student of the school,” and about 40 students in 75 years had entered Religious Life. The reporter also recognized the school’s pride that two Sisters of Mercy were teachers in the first public school established in Macon in 1872.
The Academy’s students in 1951 understood their legacy as women who would lead and teach the next generation, which was described in the Jubilee edition of The Sales Sheet student publication: “Each and every graduate of the next 25 years has an obligation to uphold the cultural traditions and educational standards of the last 75 years. We, the present students of Mount de Sales, will be the wives and mothers of tomorrow. We shall be entrusted with the molding of the young souls of the next generation. Some of us, perhaps, will be nuns – the teachers of tomorrow, on whom will rest the responsibility of the Christian education of the youth of tomorrow. How well are we preparing ourselves for such tremendous tasks? We should make the best use of the minds and talents God has so generously bestowed on us. He expects nothing more of us. With the treasured motto of our Alma Mater foremost in our minds we can face our futures fearlessly, ‘In God We Trust.'”
Today, we celebrate the women leaders and teachers whose collective wisdom and vision created a foundation for the outstanding institution that Mount de Sales is today. As we embrace their legacy, we can recommit ourselves to use our God-given talents to face the future fearlessly and with purpose.
Mount de Sales Academy is a private Catholic school located in Macon, GA, and serves students in Bibb, Houston, Jones, Monroe, Peach and other surrounding counties. MDS is sponsored and inspired by the Sisters of Mercy. Since 1876, MDS has served a diverse college-preparatory community of learners—students and teachers alike—who are poised to discover, challenged to innovate, and motivated to serve.