Liberal Nun Who Entered Legislature Inducted Into Women's Hall Of Fame

Published: Thursday, March 23, 2017 - 4:38pm
Updated: Friday, March 24, 2017 - 1:58pm

(Photo courtesy of the Arizona Women's Hall of Fame)
Sister Clare Dunn

Sister Clare Dunn was the first Catholic nun to be elected to public office in 1975 when she entered the Arizona Legislature as a representative from Tucson.

And she was one of the last. The Vatican has since stopped allowing nuns to run for office.

But she wasn’t there to sing in the choir. Sister Clare was a liberal lion in the conservative Arizona Legislature who said she was going to Phoenix to struggle for social justice.

She fought for immigrants, women and children, prisoner’s rights, Arizona’s water rights, and she was critical of the majority party for their ties to special interests.

But in the middle of her seventh term, she and her legislative aide, Sister Judith Lovchik, were killed in a car crash on the I-10.

Now, more than 35 years after her death, Sister Clare is being inducted into the Arizona Women’s Hall of Fame.

Sister Clare was a really unforgettable person. So much so that the woman who nominated her for the Arizona Women’s Hall of Fame was her student decades ago when she taught her government teacher in high school in Tucson.

Norah Booth says Sister Clare was an inspiration to her. Now, she’s a freelance writer and teacher herself in Tucson, but she says she remembers how passionately Sister Clare taught them all those years ago.

Booth has been researching Sister Clare to write a book about her, and, when I spoke with her more about her former teacher, I asked her about how this Democratic Catholic nun was welcomed into the Arizona Legislature when she arrived back in 1975.

Sister Clare Dunn’s induction ceremony into the Arizona Women’s Hall of Fame will take place this afternoon at 3 p.m. at the Arizona Heritage Center in Papago Park.

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