Sr. Maureen Paul Turlish of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, a longtime advocate for victims of sexual abuse, died July 18 in Cincinnati. She was 79.
Turlish was a founding member of the National Survivor Advocates Coalition and Catholic Whistleblowers, groups for advocates of abuse victims. She was also active in the Philadelphia chapter of Voice of the Faithful, on the board of the Delaware Association for Children of Alcoholics, and a contributor to the National Catholic Reporter, offering analysis of the sex abuse crisis and the church's need for accountability.
Turlish was born July 5, 1939, in Philadelphia to Paul Turlish and Mary (Dunn) Turlish. As a child, Turlish was already involved in social activism: Her father was a union leader and took her to a picket line as a girl. She encountered the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in high school and joined in 1960.
Turlish graduated from Trinity Washington University in 1965 with bachelor's degrees in English and secondary education. An art teacher, she also later earned a master's degree in art education from the University of Maryland and was at one time the Fine Arts Chair at St. Elizabeth High School in Wilmington, Delaware.
At her first profession, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in Cincinnati told GSR, Turlish added "a special dedication to women and children" to the end of her vows.
In the wake of the Boston Globe's reporting in 2002 detailing sex abuse in the Catholic Church, Turlish began weighing in on the matter publicly, writing under the pseudonym "Sister M Immaculata Dunn" about the abuse on online forums and in letters published in the New York Times in 2003.