It Takes a Village: Responding to the Needs of Rosemary Radford Ruether by Cynthia Garrity-Bond

Rosemary Radford RuetherAs many of you may already know, on August 24, 2016, feminist theologian and scholar Rosemary Radford Ruether suffered a significant stroke. There has been some speculation from those who know or have known Rosemary about her current condition.  Here is the short of it.  While Rosemary has made progress, her doctors and therefore Medicare feel it is insufficient to warrant continued physical and speech therapies. Those who interact with Rosemary on a daily or weekly basis disagree with this medical prognosis.  The stroke damaged the part of Rosemary’s brain that allows for communication, therefore she, at this time, is not able to speak.  That said, Rosemary recognizes individuals, is able to respond to some commands and engage in therapeutic exercises.  The more attention and care she receives the greater her capacity grows for a more meaningful life that includes a level of agency.  

The first year of a stroke demands ongoing therapies in order to truly assess a clear diagnosis.  To what degree Rosemary will recover from her stroke is uncertain, but at the minimum ongoing therapies will prove beneficial towards her overall quality of life.  Unfortunately, Rosemary does not have secondary health insurance that will cover the cost of these badly needed therapies.   For example, one month of Physical Therapy at 3x/week and Speech Therapy 2x/week amounts to $3,289.00.  Put another way, 15 minutes of physical or speech therapy costs $41.00.  To be effective, Rosemary should have, at the minimum, five hours of combined therapy per week.  

Joan Borysenko, author of A Woman’s Journey to God, notes that unlike men who set out alone on “The Hero’s Journey,” in the Descent of Inanna, Inanna “cannot make the journey of transformation alone.  Her path to wisdom and her divine birthright as the goddess of love is one in which friends are the key components.  Without them she would not survive” (178).  So too is the case with our beloved Rosemary.  In Mary Hunt’s splendid article “The Life of ‘Scholar Activist’ Rosemary Radford Ruether, Hunt reminds us of Rosemary’s connection with her students when she notes:

Her ability to create colleagues — not mentor in the patriarchal sense, but to really create colleagues in her students — assures that her work will endure beyond her earthly life, when, according to her own theology, she becomes part of the compost for future lives. That is “hope and meaning” in abundance.

If you have benefited from Rosemary’s scholarship, friendship or mentorship there is a tangible way to give back to a woman whose life has been dedicated to the advancement of others—especially to women.  A Plumfund has been established for Rosemary to help fund her physical and speech therapies.  Additionally, if you live a reasonable driving distance to Claremont, California, I invite you to visit Rosemary at her nursing home facility located on the Pilgrim Place campus.  There is a need for additional people to assist those already spread thin in the visitation of Rosemary.  A good place to start is to reach out to Theresa Yugar at: to schedule a day and time.  The only requirement is a willingness to spend an hour or so with Rosemary.  You can read to her, take her for a walk or work on any number of activities that stimulate her active mind.

Our lives are busy, very busy and it is understandable that this remarkable woman and her needs might slip from our rearview mirror.  One way to remember Rosemary is to hold her in the light through prayer.  This is one I find comforting, but naturally, find and use one that speaks to you.

May the light
Of the Goddess
Shine within you and
through you.
May her healing spirit
fill your heart
May Her wisdom guide you
May Her love embrace you
and may her peace
Bless you all the days
Of your life.  

On behalf of Rosemary’s family and close-knit community, I thank you for your willingness to make both physical and speech therapies a reality and to assist in the healing of such a remarkable “Scholar Activist.

Cynthia Garrity-Bond is a feminist theologian and social ethicist, is completing her doctorate at Claremont Graduate University in women studies in religion with a secondary focus in theology, ethics and culture.  Her research interests includes feminist sexual theology, historical theology with particular emphasis on religious movements of women, agency and resistance to ecclesial authority, embodiment, Mariology and transnational feminisms. 

Categories: Community, Foremothers, Women's Voices

Tags: , , , , ,

16 replies

  1. I was not able to get the transaction to go through! I will look again for the postal address. Just wanted to let you know I was unable to use the credit card I use for all online transactions.

    Thanks for letting us know about Rosemary. Warm regards to her and to you!


  2. Thank you for this beautiful post. How disappointing the response of the doctors. The village will rise.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Strokes are awful. I wish Rosemary well. I also wish I could understand why medical care is so expensive. It’s more expensive here than in almost any other country in the world. A tiny suggestion: maybe her care givers could find somewhere to move her so she can receive the care she needs?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Barbara, this is on the family’s mind. Right now, the focus is trying to get Rosemary into Casa Colina possibly for a week to get intensive speech therapy-help. It takes a village. Thus, everything just takes time. Thanks for your post and support too, Theresa


  4. I’m low income but will be honoured to hold Rosemary in prayer. And Saturday when I go to our local Women’s March, I shall take her with me in spirit.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am so sorry that Rosemary had a stroke. My cousin had a stoke in September that left him unable to speak. He has had to go on state aid, since he cannot work. He is a carpenter. He is finally doing better and was able to talk to his mother on the phone recently, so there is hope!

    I met Rosemary when she spoke in Portland, Maine, a couple of years ago. Rosemary means a great deal to me since I based my thesis on Rosemary and Carol’s writings about the Goddess movement. I would like to contribute something to her care, but it seems the site isn’t working well. Is there another option?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Linda, I just donated money to see if it worked. It did. The second option is to send a check by mail. Let me know if you’re interested in doing that – I’ll have FAR connect us directly. Thanks for any help you can give, Theresa, a former student


  7. Thanks for the update. I am so sorry that Rosemary is suffering.


  8. I was able to get the credit card to work–these things are always so dicey! You do one thing wrong and the whole thing is voided. Good luck! I live very close by and visit her weekly. She has made incredible progress although gradually. She continues to surprise us all in her grace in suffering and her resilient spirit which is totally her and shows through brightly!! I was reading a chapter to her on Poststructuralism last week and when my voice gave out, she took the book and started reading for herself!! Quite a number of pages. She wants the good stuff, not fluff! In her own way now, she is still teaching us! Just being in her presence now is a gift and also a rich learning experience.


  9. Thank you for this update. Holding you in prayer, Rosemary. I am currently teaching my first feminism and religion course and today we read her work and celebrated her many contributions to the field.


  10. Emily Culpepper and I are former students of Rosemary’s from Harvard Divinity. We would like to visit her even very briefly. Is this possible?



  1. Biblical Studies Carnival 131 – January 2017 - Westar Institute
  2. Se necesita de un pueblo: Para responder a las necesidades de Rosemary Radford Ruether: Cynthia Garrity-Bond | Evangelizadoras de los apóstoles

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