The 2008 Saint Julie Billiart Award Citation
Anne Wolf Breidenstein ’43
“Julie Billiart was a woman of great purpose and intense action. Undaunted by poverty, illness, death threats, criticisms from her local bishop and other occasional obstacles to her divinely-inspired sense of mission, she established the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur 200 years ago to evangelize the world through the education of girls and women, particularly the poorest among us. With her inspiration and in the name of Notre Dame, women went forth from Belgium to spread this good news and great work to the United States where succeeding generations of Sisters of Notre Dame established schools in Cincinnati, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington.
Not satisfied with the great network of schools, in 1897 Julie’s great American heir Sister Julia McGroarty, late in her life, set about the arduous task of founding Trinity College, the first Catholic college for women intentionally established as an institution of higher education. As with Julie’s work in France before her, Julia also encountered criticism, controversy, and threats to the great project; and with Julie’s courage and wisdom, Julia persisted, aided by the intrepid Sister Mary Euphrasia Taylor, and in spite of opposition and doubt, the granite walls of Main Hall arose, soon inhabited by the pioneer students and faculty to whom we still owe a great debt of gratitude for their vision and fortitude.
Trinity created the Julie Billiart Award to recognize alumnae whose contributions to our society, the Church and alma mater exemplify the ideals of St. Julie – faith, courage, persistence, hope, charity.
Today we honor Anne Wolf Breidenstein, Class of 1943, who in so many ways is a faithful heir and exemplar of all that Julie Billiart intended through her ministries. A quiet, patient, graceful leader, Anne has inspired generations of women in her many fields of volunteer endeavors in Philadelphia as well as through her work at Trinity. She has lent her considerable leadership talent to the American Association of University Women, Girls Inc., St. Colman’s Parish, and of course, Trinity and our Alumnae Association where she served on the board and a term as president. Sixty-five years after her graduation from Trinity, Anne is still deeply engaged with volunteer service, whether hosting AAUW meetings in her home or chairing St. Colman’s 100th anniversary, or serving as a lector at Mass or consulting with Trinity alumnae on the next Philadelphia chapter event.
Through the years, in all of her many endeavors, Anne’s generosity of spirit and resources has been a source of tremendous comfort and help to her alma mater. Her model of faith, charity, courage and selfless service surely reveals the inspiration of St. Julie working through this great Trinity life.
For her model of service and charity, faith and hope, Trinity is proud to present the 2008 Julie Billiart Award to Anne Breidenstein on this day, May 31, 2008.”
Presented by President Patricia McGuire at Reunion