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Christine Hope Allen, known as Sister Mary Prudence Allen, R.S.M., was born July 21, 1940 in Oneida, New York. Her father was Henry Grosvernor Allen (d. 1997) and her mother was Mildred Beatrice Gorman (d. 2007). Her family was descended from the Oneida Community, a utopian religious community of the nineteenth century. Married in 1965, she has two sons. In May 1972, her marriage was ended by physical separation, religious annulment and divorce subsequently followed. In 1983 she became a Roman Catholic nun with the Religious Sisters of Mercy. (Her sister, Elizabeth Bethany Allen joined the same community, and is called Sister Lydia Allen, R.S.M.) In 1967 Sister Prudence received a Ph.D. in philosophy from Claremont Graduate School in California. She began to teach philosophy at Sir George Williams University in 1969 and became full-time assistant professor in 1972. In 1974, Sir George Williams University merged with Loyola College to form Concordia University. Sister Prudence Allen was promoted to associate professor in 1977. She became full professor in 1993. She retired and was named professor emerita in 1996. She then moved to Denver, Colorado where she was full professor and held the Archbishop Charles J. Chaput OFM, cap Chair of Philosophy at the St. John Vianney Theological Seminary. She has been reassigned to Lancaster University Chaplaincy, Lancaster, UK, in November 2013. In 2014, she was appointed to the International Theological Commission by Pope Francis for five years (2014-2019).
At Concordia, Sister Prudence Allen helped develop the interdisciplinary pedagogical basis for women’s studies and helped found the Working Women’s Association for faculty and staff. She co-coordinated the committee that established a women’s college, the Simone de Beauvoir Institute. She was also involved with the interdisciplinary Lonergan University College, serving as its principal from 1992-1995.
Her book The Concept of Woman (Volume I): The Aristotelian Revolution (750 BC- 1250 AD) was published in 1985. A revised edition appeared in 1997. Volume II, The Concept of Woman: The Early Humanist Revolution (1250-1500) was published in 2002 and Volume III, The Concept of Women: The Search for the Communion of Persons (1500-2015) was published in 2016. She is also the author of numerous articles, and has lectured widely.