Sisters in Science
February 11 is the UN’s International Day of Women and Girls in Science, and it seemed like a perfect opportunity to introduce some of our Maryknoll Sister scientists. The Sisters’ mission work was never all catechetics and cooking – Sisters were encouraged to develop their unique skills and interests to enrich their ministries. Many Sisters pursued scientific endeavors, including teaching elementary science classes, writing zoological guides to their mission areas, and working as nurses and doctors in large hospitals and small clinics.
Sisters who attended Mary Rogers College in Maryknoll NY participated in classes of all kinds, including biology, chemistry, geology, agriculture, psychology, and nutrition. A solid science background allowed the Sisters to teach their students around the world in the latest theories and methods.
Sister Paula Therese Starke joined Maryknoll in 1953 after gaining her MD from Duke University in 1941 and practicing as a doctor of internal medicine at Duke University Hospital and instructor at the School of Medicine for many years. She felt called to religious life, and spent her ministry providing medical care at Queen of the World Hospital in Kansas City 1956-1964, teaching at the University of Nebraska Medical School 1969-1988, and working at the Ripley Clinic of Baylor University after her retirement from Nebraska.
Sister Mary Frances Kobets joined Maryknoll in 1959, and attended both Mary Rogers College and Kansas State University to gain a degree in Agriculture, Economics and Animal Husbandry in 1969. Sister Fran served in Tanzania and Zimbabwe where she taught courses in food science and nutrition, agricultural zoology, animal nutrition, and animal breeding at several colleges and government training institutes in both countries. She used her training and experience to help improve the nutrition and general health of the communities she served.