History of the Grail in the United States
The Grail began in Holland in 1921 as a Catholic lay organization, called The Women of Nazareth.
It was founded by a Jesuit priest, Jacques van Ginneken (1877-1949), but from its beginning, women directed the Grail. They staged massive, colorful rallies and enacted religious dramas, working with young women in Holland, England, and Germany.
In May 1940, two Dutch Grail women, Lydwine van Kersbergen (1904-1998) and Joan Overboss (1910-1969), came to the United States at the invitation of Chicago’s archbishop.
They began their work as the Grail at Doddridge Farm, a summer camp in Libertyville, Illinois. In 1944, the Grail, which had grown to sixteen women, moved to a farm in Loveland, Ohio (near Cincinnati). This farm is now Grailville.
Lydwine van Kersbergen
In 1990, Lydwine van Kersbergen was interviewed by Carol White, during a gathering of the Grail in the United States, a Grail General Assembly. Mary Gene Devlin transcribed that interview.
Grail Stories: History of Grail Countries 1980 to 2017 In anticipation of the Grail’s 100th anniversary in 2021, the histories of the Grail in this book present the life and work in 18 countries from the 1980s to the present. The earlier history of 16 Grail countries appeared in a book published in 1984.
Telling the Grail Story is a look at the history of the Grail across the globe in the art collections of the Grail in the U.S.
“The Grail at Grailville: The Early Years” Created by Elizabeth Hughes Murphy and Elizabeth Schickel-Robinson
In the 1950s and early 1960s, the Grail established centers across the country in Brooklyn (1947), Cincinnati (1951), New York (1952), Detroit (1952), Philadelphia (1954), Lafayette, Louisiana (1957), Queens (1958), San Jose, California (1961), and Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York (1963). Today the Grail continues to operate centers in Loveland, OH, Cornwall-on-Hudson, and the Bronx (opened in 1982).
In the late 1960s and 1970s, the Grail, influenced by changes in the Catholic Church and by the growth of the women’s movement, become more inclusive of other religious traditions, and Grail members became pioneers in Catholic feminist theology. In 1969, the Grail in the USA voted to admit women of other Christian traditions as full participants, and in 1975, welcomed Jewish women as well.
Janet Kalven, Grailville Co-Founder