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Lillanna Kopp
1919 - 2011

Lillanna Kopp was born in Bozeman, Mont., the youngest child of John and Leila Shotwell Kopp. A 1937 graduate of Portland's Roosevelt High School, Lillanna later entered the Convent of the Sisters of Holy Names in Marylhurst, taking the name of Sister Mary Audrey with her vows.

She went on to earn degrees in education and psycho-logy from Marylhurst College and Seattle University respect-ively. She earned her doctorate degree in sociology from St. Louis University in 1960, where she was the first female recipient of a teaching fellowship from the previously all-male educational institution


Lillanna went on to have a very successful career as both a teacher and a scholar. She taught at almost every level of schooling including St. Peter, Our Lady of the Lake, and The Madeleine School of the greater Portland area, and St. Mary's of Medford. In addition, she was the principal at The Christie School and the Job Corps director of Center Life at Tongue Point Women's Center.

Lillanna also held teaching positions in sociology and anthropology at Webster College, Marylhurst College, the World Campus Afloat for Chapman College and Portland Community College. Her commitment to education was only surpassed by her commitment to social justice and religious life.

 In 1961, she served as a delegate to the General Assembly of the U.S. Commission on UNESCO, and in 1965, actively participated in the civil rights movement as one of the founding members of the Traveling Workshop in Inter-Group Relations sponsored by The National Catholic Conference for Interracial Justice (NCIJ).

She went on to be named the Director of Research and Curriculum for the Education Department of the NCCIJ in 1968. In that same year, she published two manuscripts, "The Myth of Race" and "The New Nuns: Collegial Christians." It is the title of the latter that best represents Lillanna's greatest passion and life work.

Initially as co-editor of TRANS-SISTER, a grass-roots newsletter for American nuns, and later as founder of Sisters for Christian Community (SFCC), Lillanna was a leader in the movement to transform the private and public lives of American nuns to better serve our communities and the Church.

Founded in her North Portland home in 1970, today the SFCC is an international organization with members on every continent across the globe, committed to religious life and service via self-determination and collegiality.

Lillanna continued her work for new non-canonical communities for American nuns throughout her retirement at her shared Sunspot in Waldport, Oregon.

In 1983, she published her final manuscript, a sociological analysis of women's religious communities, titled Sudden Spring: 6th stage Sisters: Trends of Change in Catholic Sisterhoods, and became the president of the National Coalition of American Nuns.

Lillanna died Easter Sunday, April 24, 2011. As a young woman, Lillanna was preceded in death by her brothers, John and Charles Kopp; and more recently by her sister, Mary Leila Kopp Wolf, with whom, over the last two decades of her life, she shared a home, garden, a large extended family and a nightly game of Rummikub.


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