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The Catholics in Statuary Hall


Kathy Schiffer - published on 07/03/14 - updated on 06/08/17

Mother Mary Joseph Pariseau was a pioneer, missionary and humanitarian. She represents the state of Washington in Statuary Hall. Originally serving in Canada, Mother Mary Joseph was the first superior of the Sisters of Charity of Providence in the Northwestern United States. She traveled by horseback and stagecoach to western mining towns, where she sought financial support for her order’s projects throughout the Northwest: hospitals, schools, and orphanages. She was skilled as a carpenter, woodworker and architect; and, in the 1870s, she designed and oversaw construction of St. Joseph Hospital in Vancouver, St. Vincent Hospital in Portland and Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane.

John Edward Kenna is one of West Virginia’s honorees in Statuary Hall. He was severely injured while serving in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. McKenna served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, then as U.S. Senator—a post to which he was reelected several times. As a Senator, he was concerned about tariff reform and the regulation of railroads. He was an active Catholic, and was responsible for the design of Charlestown’s historic St. Joseph Church.

Rev. Jacques Marquette, S.J., French Jesuit missionary and explorer, discovered the Mississippi River. With French-Canadian fur trader Louis Joliet, Pere Marquette led an expedition that included five men and two canoes to find the mouth of the Mississippi River. Marquette’s goal was to spread the word of God among the people he encountered on the way. He began his missionary work in 1666 among the Native Americans in Canada, established missions in present-day Michigan, then traveled westward to present-day Wisconsin. There the group ascended the Fox River to a portage that crossed to the Wisconsin River near Prairie du Chien. He mastered six Native American languages in order to spread the Catholic faith in the region. Wisconsin chose Marquette to represent the state in Statuary Hall.

Kathy Schifferis Director of Publicity and Special Events for Ave Maria Radio. Her Patheos blog is Seasons of Grace.

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