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Voices of DSHA

The Right of Birth: From Injustice to Safety

In honor of the class of 2019, two outstanding young women from the class were profiled in the April edition of the Word. Hear from Maura Brennan, DSAH '19, about her life-changing education at DSHA and her experience with the school's Lenten project this year, which helped her become aware of issues not only in other countries, but also in our own city. 

Q: What are your top three favorite things/moments about your DSHA education?

A: 1. Faith Fridays and Worship Wednesdays for sure. The ability to have a time with friends in a community that is so focused on not just going to church but being joyful in it. Being in a tight-knit group with the common thread of faith has been so special all four years.

2. The rare group tests in math class. I never knew how smart and driven my friends were until I saw such an impassioned debate over a derivative or an angle in geometry or BC Calculus. Math has always been kind of difficult for me, but situations like this not only remind me how great it is to be surrounded by such intelligent, passionate girls, but how important group problem solving is. Everyone yelling about math is surprisingly one of my most fond memories.

3. The first time our class did the "SENIORS! SENIORS!" chant after “19-19-1119!”

Q: Who has been the most influential teacher of staff person for you at DSHA?

 Definitely all of the CMC women (Director of Campus Ministry Kathleen Cullen Ritter, DSHA ’05; Director of Salvatorian Service Stephanie Monson; Campus Ministry for Liturgy & Prayer Catherine Lennon; and Campus Ministry Administrative Assistant Barb Seidl.) They have taught me that no matter what you’re doing, a dedication to faith and the service of others can be found in any job or any life. They have taught me to not be selfish in your time and talents, and they model this for us daily.

Q: Looking back, what assurance would you give to your freshmen self about your DSHA experience?

A: Take advantage of every opportunity–– it is important because going to DSHA is a gift. You will have opportunities you will not find anywhere else. Don’t be afraid to try new things because you will have a life-changing four years! And make sure to spend all the time that you can with your 160+ sisters because it will go by faster than you think.

Q: What are your plans following graduation in May?

A: As of right now, I plan to attend Notre Dame. My love of history, STEM/logic– based classes, and service are leading me to study political science and international politics. I’d like to work in global development and global health, maybe for an NGO (non-governmental organization). This is who I am as a Catholic; I want to help create long-term solutions for global peace and justice issues.


As we learned in AP European History, John Locke outlined in his Social Contract Theory the natural necessity and right to life, liberty, health, and property. During the Civil War, brave Americans laid down their lives for the dignity and freedom—the life itself—of a race. The seventies saw an emergence in the emphasis on the value of the woman, a call for equal rights to men. This past decade, even, has seen an exponential increase in our awareness for the necessity in the equality among all lives in regards to race, gender, and background. But how can we seek to advocate for these lives and care for these issues without discussing the greatest instigator of injustice of all…birth?

Though we can always preach about the inherent equality of all men and women, one unjust factor proves this untrue—safety of birth. Across the world, charities rightfully seek to care for human lives in easing hunger, the pain of disease, and the injustice of slavery. Even so, the most basic of injustices is often neglected—the issues surrounding clean birth and maternal healthcare. A basic lack of resources and stigmas surrounding pregnancy create devastating maternal and infant mortality rates in both distant nations and down the street. Such injustice has brought Campus Ministry to choose our Lent project this year to be the construction of a maternity ward in Ghana.

Every day, an average of 830 mothers die across the world due to preventable causes during childbirth. In developing countries, where the majority of these deaths occur, women are carted for miles across their nations in labor on motorcycles, confined to poorly sanitized huts next to diseased patients. As women are not the priority in many villages, maternity wards are a rarity. Globally, 2.5 million children died after only one month of life last year. Another 2.5 million died stillborn. The underlying causes of malnutrition and preventable maternal diseases create an injustice and indignity in children’s’ lives before they are even born.

This injustice does not only plague the streets of sub-Saharan Africa; in order to fight global issues, we must also remember our own backyards. Doing such work in Ghana brought us an awareness of such inequality in our own neighborhoods.

We live in a state with one of the most lethal zip codes for babies in the country, the Milwaukee area having by far the highest in the state. This is not a coincidence. Sixty percent of the mothers in certain Milwaukee zip codes are single mothers, with over sixty percent of men in the same zip codes either in prison or having served time. From the moment of birth, children face inequality, held back by the chains of the forty five perfect poverty rate. DSHA emphasizes the importance of service in high school so we can gave back to the community in service others in our futures. In gathering baby items and resources for mothers during special collections days this Lent, we were able to give back to the Milwaukee community while reflecting on the importance of this mission across the world.

Only in treating other countries and zip codes as equal can we work together to save lives. Maternal education, sterilized hospitals, and nourishment are provided once community education regarding the dignity of all birth is provided.

This Lent project brought us a total of $22,424.91 to give to these well-deserving mothers and babies in Ghana. These pursuits remain ineffective if we don’t recognize the dignity of all stages of life. If death is the great equalizer, then birth is the root of inequality; this Lent DSHA worked to fix this injustice so as to preserve the rights of life and liberty beyond the first breath.

Divine Savior Holy Angels High School

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