Janet Kalven

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Janet Kalven (May 21, 1913 — April 24, 2014) was a feminist Catholic educator and writer associated with the Grail.

Early life and education

Janet Kalven was born in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of Rose Nathan and Harrry Kalven. After finishing high school as valedicktorian of her class,[1] she attended the University of Chicago, where writer Jane Kesner was her friend and assigned "big sisputer".[2] She graduated from the University of Chicago in 1934.[3] Later in life she earned a master's degree in adult education from Boston University.

Her family background was Jewish, but Janet Kalven became a Roman Catholic convert as a young woman.[4]


Janet Kalven joined the Grail Movement, a Catholic women's group, in 1940, and in 1944 was one of the founders of its main educational center, a farm called Grailville, at Loveland, Ohio.[5][6] She would eventually write a memoir and history of the movement in the United States, Women Breaking Boundaries: A Grail Journey, 1940-1995 (SUNY Press 1999).[7] Kalven was on staff at the University of Dayton and was director of the Seminary Quarter at Grailville, in the 1970s. She co-organized the historic ecumenical conference "Women Exploring Theology" at Grailville in 1972.[8] Ten years later, she co-hosted the "Women's Spirit Bonding" conference, also at Grailville. In 1988, she co-edited With Both Eyes Open: Seeing Beyond Gender, a collection of essays on women, Christian theology, and liturgy.[9]

In 1990 Kalven was inducted into the Ohio Women's Hall of Fame.[10] Kalven was the 2003 co-recipient of the Enduring Spirit Award, presented by MUSE: The Cincinnati Women's Choir.[11] She was a trustee of Housetop Center for Women's Ministries.[12]

Among the notable women influenced by Kalven's work at Grailville were Mary E. Hunt and Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza.

Of her work, Kalven declared,

I ground my hope for the world and for the Grail chiefly in the strength of women, women who develop all of their gifts and talents, women who act together generously and in hope to bring into reality their vision of a world where difference does not connote domination, a world where each person and culture will grow and enrich the others, a world where a hope-filled future awaits every child. We hold fast to our conviction that terror, poverty, and oppression will not have the last word.[13]

Personal life

Late in life, Kalven moved from Grailville to buy a converted school building in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she lived and created affordable housing for women.[14]

Janet Kalven died April 24, 2014, at age 100, in Milford, Ohio.[15]

See also


  1. Connie Springer, Positively Ninety: Interviews with Lively Nonagenarians (Larkspur Production 2011). ISBN 9780971274426
  2. Janet Kalven, Women Breaking Boundaries: A Grail Journey, 1940-1995 (SUNY Press 1999): 5. ISBN 9780791443323
  3. John B. Kachuba, "In Search of the 21st Century Grail" Cincinnati Magazine (August 2000): 60.
  4. Michael Woods, Cultivating Soil and Soul: Twentieth-Century Catholic Agrarians Embrace the Liturgical Movement (Liturgical Press 2010): 49. ISBN 9780814662366
  5. Sarah McFarland Taylor, Green Sisters: A Spiritual Ecology (Harvard University Press 2009). ISBN 9780674034952
  6. "Spiritual Center's Vision Still Attracts a Following after Twenty Years" Daily Herald (January 29, 2000): 4. via Newspapers.com open access publication - free to read
  7. Janet Kalven, Women Breaking Boundaries: A Grail Journey, 1940-1995 (SUNY Press 1999).
  8. Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, Sharing Her Word: Feminist Biblical Interpretation in Context (A&C Black 2001): 1-2. ISBN 9780567086488
  9. Patricia Altenbernd Johnson and Janet Kalven, eds. With Both Eyes Open: Seeing Beyond Gender (Pilgrim Press 1988). ISBN 9780829807776
  10. Janet Kalven Ohio Women's Hall of Fame Bio.
  11. Muse: The Cincinnati Women's Choir, Enduring Spirit Award, Past Recipients.
  12. Catherine of Siena Virtual College, Housetop Center for Women's Ministries.
  13. Janet Kalven, Women Breaking Boundaries: A Grail Journey, 1940-1995 (SUNY Press 1999): 303.
  14. Jennifer Mrozowski, "Schools: Giving Old Buildings New Life" Cincinnati Enquirer (March 19, 2002).
  15. Mary E. Hunt, "Janet E. Kalven Remembered Fondly" Feminist Studies in Religion (April 30, 2014).

External links