Anita Caspary

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Dr. Anita Marie Caspary (November 4, 1915, Herrick, South Dakota – October 5, 2011, Los Angeles, California) was an American nun and onetime mother superior who led the largest single exodus of nuns in the Catholic Church from canonical (church law) religious order vows in American history to found a lay women's organization known as the Immaculate Heart of Mary Community.


A "cradle Catholic" who took her vows in 1936 as Sister Humiliata in the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Caspary became increasingly at-odds with the Archbishop of Los Angeles, James Cardinal McIntyre in the wake of the Second Vatican Council. In December 1969, after a standoff, more than 300 sisters at an Immaculate Heart community meeting voted to become a non-canonical community, thereby freeing themselves of Cardinal McIntyre's jurisdiction. Around fifty of these continued to operate with diocesan recognition. [clarification needed] Approximately 250 sisters ceased teaching in the archdiocese's Catholic schools. Caspary recalled that establishing a voluntary lay community "relieved us from threats and difficulties with the church under which we lived at that time".[1]

Caspary was president of Immaculate Heart College, which was operated by her order, from 1958–63. (The school continued to operate after the schism in 1970, but closed in 1980.) After the break with the Church, she taught at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley and served on the staff of the Peace and Justice Center of Southern California.[2]


Caspary taught high school English while studying toward a master's degree at the University of Southern California. She received her Ph.D. in 1948 from Stanford University. She wrote a 2003 memoir, Witness to Integrity. In 2012, a collection of her poems, FROM THE HEART: Poems by Anita M. Caspary, I.H.M., was published posthumously.


Anita Caspary died in Los Angeles, California on October 5, 2011, aged 95.[3]


  1. ^ Nelson, Valerie. "Anita Caspary dies at 95; 'rebel nun' founded Immaculate Heart Community". LA Times. Retrieved October 22, 2011. 
  2. ^ Fox, Thomas. "Anita Caspary, religious visionary, dies in Los Angeles". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved October 22, 2011. 
  3. ^ Vitello, Paul. "Anita Caspary, Nun Who Led Breakaway From Church, Dies at 95". New York Times. Retrieved October 22, 2011.