Seminary of the Southwest and the Alumni Steering Committee are proud to announce The Rev. Maureen “Mo” Doherty, MDiv, class of 2001, as recipient of the 2023 Hal Brook Perry award, presented each year at the Blandy Lecture to an alumnus who exemplifies exceptional ministry to parishes, dioceses, and/or specific communities or ministries – local, regional, or worldwide.
The Rev. Doherty will receive the award at this year’s Blandy Lecture and Symposium Eucharist service on November 15, 2023. The Blandy Lecture will feature Naomi Shihab Nye, the award-winning Palestinian-American poet, essayist and educator, who will present a talk on “What it means to be Beloved Community.”
Born in 1946 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Rev. Maureen “Mo” Doherty, whose name has become synonymous with compassion and unwavering commitment, was one of eight children from a loving family. Her commitment to family and faith was instilled from a young age by her parents, Jerome and Margaret Doherty, both of whom were recognized with high awards from the Catholic Church for their outstanding contributions to their community in Albuquerque.
The Rev. Doherty’s remarkable journey began when she left Albuquerque after high school in 1964 to join the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati. Over the next ten years, she dedicated herself to a multitude of roles, from working as a group parent in an orphanage to teaching grade school and even becoming the first woman to manage an all-male caseload as a juvenile parole officer in Dayton, Ohio. These early experiences laid the foundation for a life characterized by service and dedication.
After leaving the Sisters of Charity, she embarked on a new chapter of her life, becoming a loving mother to her son, Kevin, who was born in 1979. Throughout her life, her dedication to Kevin and the lessons learned while raising him were pivotal in shaping her journey.
The Rev. Doherty’s path took her from Albuquerque to Austin, Texas, where she continued to work in roles ranging from paralegal to jail counselor and parole officer. Throughout this time, she remained connected to her faith and became a member of the Aquinas Newman Center, a church and campus ministry founded by her parents. It was during this period that she underwent a profound transformation, transitioning from Catholicism to the Episcopal Church and addressing the complexities of her identity as a lesbian within the church community.
It was in the welcoming embrace of the Rev. Carole McGowan at St. Thomas of Canterbury that our recipient found her true spiritual home. Over the years, as she deepened her connection to this church community, people began to recognize her extraordinary potential for ministry. This calling took her by surprise, but she trusted the path laid out before her.
The Rev. Doherty was received into the Episcopal Church in 1996, and the journey to ordination began. With faith in her heart and the unwavering support of her son and her mentors, she embarked on a life-altering journey. Despite the challenges she faced, including a lack of support from some bishops, she pursued her calling, eventually finding a home within the Diocese of Oklahoma.
In 2001, she graduated from seminary and was placed at St. Aiden’s in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She continued her mission of service, this time as an ordained deacon, focusing on issues close to her heart. Later, she moved to Iowa, where she became part of St. Andrew’s in Waverly, a small parish facing significant challenges. Through her tireless efforts and unwavering determination, the parish not only survived but thrived, and its outreach touched the lives of many in the community.
As the journey continued, she found herself at the University of Northern Iowa, fostering connections with students and co-ministers that transcended boundaries and defied convention. Her journey, marked by love and inclusion, also led her to the love of her life, Joan, who joined her in marriage, celebrating their union once Iowa recognized gay marriage.
The Rev. Doherty’s life has been a testament to the power of faith, love, and community. She has navigated through challenges, breaking boundaries and redefining norms. With humility, she has served as a guide, a minister, and a support system for those in need, both in her spiritual and secular endeavors.