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Sister Mary Luke Tobin, sole US woman to participate in 2d Vatican Council; 98

NERINX, Ky. -- Sister Mary Luke Tobin, the only American woman to participate in the Second Vatican Council, has died. She was 98.

Sister Tobin was a former superior general of the Sisters of Loretto. She died Thursday at the order's motherhouse in Nerinx, where she retired in 1999.

She had been president of the order from 1958 to 1970. When she was invited to Rome, she was president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, a group of leaders from US congregations of religious sisters.

Sister Tobin was invited to attend the third and final session of the Second Vatican Council in Rome in 1964 and 1965. A dozen other women were invited to observe the proceedings, but she was one of three women in the world to participate in policymaking.

She did much of her work in her native Denver but traveled the world on missions for peace, including visits to Saigon and Paris during the Vietnam War and later El Salvador and Northern Ireland during conflicts there.

While living in Nerinx, Sister Tobin became friends with Trappist monk Thomas Merton, who lived at the nearby Abbey of Gethsemani.

After Merton's death in 1968, Sister Tobin was a cofounder of the International Thomas Merton Society and established the Thomas Merton Center for Creative Exchange in Denver in 1979.

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