Remembering Alumna Georgianna Glose, Activist Nun Who Dedicated Her Life to Social Justice

June 18, 2020

Glose was known for starting a social service organization in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, and for speaking out about a child sexual abuse scandal within the Catholic Church.

The Graduate Center remembers Sister Georgianna Glose (Ph.D. ’95, Social Welfare), an advocate for social and economic justice who spoke out against child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. She died on April 28 at age 73 of complications of COVID-19.

Professor Michael J. Smith (GC/Hunter, Social Welfare) called her “an inspiration and a tribute to her profession and to her larger calling as a Dominican Sister.” He said that the community programs she created made her a well-known presence in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn and highlighted her work for social justice “in broader areas such as child sexual abuse and economic disparity. Her wonderful personality and calm, yet persistent presence will be greatly missed.”

Glose was a New Yorker who joined the Sisters of St. Dominic of Amityville, New York, after high school. She received her undergraduate degree in philosophy from Molloy College while teaching 5th grade. But, in 1969, she left her convent and a more conventional path and went to serve a parish in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, where she put into action programs to serve that community. She served as executive director of the Brooklyn Borough-wide Interagency Council on the Aging, lobbied for better health care, and led the Mid- Atlantic Consortium for Human Services. Almost 25 years ago, she founded SNAP, the Strategic Neighborhood Action Partnership, a family resource center that works with the community in the areas of education, health care, housing, and economic development. She continued to work there through the pandemic.

While working in Fort Greene, Glose earned a master’s at Hunter College and received her doctorate in social welfare from The Graduate Center. Her dissertation was a study of efforts to recruit African Americans to the Order of the Dominican Sisters. Smith said that she researched “both the organization of the program and its successes and shortcomings, tracking the profound effects that race can play in society and in a Catholic institution.”

In 1993, she raised her voice after researching allegations of child sexual abuse by a priest in her parish. She not only reported it to the diocese, but she brought the findings to public attention because she felt that the church had not taken sufficient action.

Teresa Theophano, a friend and colleague told NPR that Glose’s whistleblowing was “an excellent example of the fearlessness that she put forth in all of her actions. … She embodied the spirit of our profession and of a progressive nun, and she did it her way.”

The New York Times published her obituary as part of its series of tributes to people who died from complications of the coronavirus. Reader comments came from her high school friends and the students she taught who recalled her courage and humanity, and from people she had never met who were deeply moved by this “rare and dedicated human being.”