Called to Serve: A History of Nuns in America

Called to Serve: A History of Nuns in America

by Margaret M. McGuinness
     
 

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Winner, Conference on the History of Women Religious (CHWR) Distinguished Book Award

Winner, 2014 Catholic Book Award in History presented by the Catholic Press Association

For many
Americans, nuns and sisters are the face of the Catholic Church. Far more visible than priests, Catholic women religious teach at schools, found hospitals, offer food to

Overview

Winner, Conference on the History of Women Religious (CHWR) Distinguished Book Award

Winner, 2014 Catholic Book Award in History presented by the Catholic Press Association

For many
Americans, nuns and sisters are the face of the Catholic Church. Far more visible than priests, Catholic women religious teach at schools, found hospitals, offer food to the poor, and minister to those in need. Their work has shaped the American Catholic Church throughout its history. Yet despite their high profile, a concise history of American Catholic sisters and nuns has yet to be published. In Called to Serve, Margaret
M. McGuinness provides the reader with an overview of the history of Catholic women religious in American life, from the colonial period to the present.

The early years of religious life in the United States found women religious in immigrant communities and on the frontier, teaching, nursing, and caring for marginalized groups. In the second half of the twentieth century, however, the role of women religious began to change. They have fewer members than ever, and their population is aging rapidly. And the method of their ministry is changing as well: rather than merely feeding and clothing the poor, religious sisters are now working to address the social structures that contribute to poverty,
fighting what one nun calls “social sin.” In the face of a changing world and shifting priorities, women religious must also struggle to strike a balance between the responsibilities of their faith and the limitations imposed upon them by their church.

Rigorously researched and engagingly written, Called to Serve offers a compelling portrait of Catholic women religious throughout American history.

Instructor's Guide

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Conveys the history of American women’s religious life in its astonishing breadth and diversity. McGuinness writes with the authority of a scholar and the ease of a storyteller. Her collective portrait of the women who have for so long represented the face of the American Catholic church will be useful not only to historians of women and of religion in the United States, but also to general readers who wish to learn about the often hidden and far-ranging contributions vowed women have made to church and nation."-Kathleen Sprows Cummings,University of Notre Dame
Library Journal
Religious sisters have helped shape the history of the United States in important ways, with prayer and without fanfare, through the schools, hospitals, orphanages, and other institutions they established. McGuinness (religion, LaSalle Univ., Neighbors and Missionaries: A History of the Sisters of Our Lady of Christian Doctrine) culls wide-ranging historical evidence, examines European roots, and brings contributions to greater light and perspective with her collective story of many communities across the United States, beginning with the Ursuline sisters in New Orleans in 1727. She draws on histories covering earlier decades (e.g., George C. Stewart Jr.'s Marvels of Charity; Carol Coburn's Spirited Lives) and blends stories buried in academic and archival sources not readily available. The book covers the post-Vatican II returns to tradition, as well as contemporary service involving peace and justice issues, the environment, immigration, and even martyrdom. The text might have been enhanced by maps but includes black-and-white photos. VERDICT This is a comprehensive, objective, and readable contribution to a subject of growing interest despite fewer numbers of sisters. Recommended for both general and academic readership.—Anna Donnelly, St. Johns. Univ. Lib., Jamaica, NY

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780814795569
Publisher:
New York University Press
Publication date:
03/04/2013
Pages:
277
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher

For generations of American Catholics, the face of their church was, quite literally, a woman's face—the nursing sister in the hospital where they were born, the teaching sister in the school where they were educated, the caring sister who helped them through times of trouble. McGuinness recovers the compelling story of these sisters and puts them back at the center of American Catholic history."-James M. O'Toole,Clough Professor of History, Boston College

"Conveys the history of American women’s religious life in its astonishing breadth and diversity. McGuinness writes with the authority of a scholar and the ease of a storyteller. Her collective portrait of the women who have for so long represented the face of the American Catholic church will be useful not only to historians of women and of religion in the United States, but also to general readers who wish to learn about the often hidden and far-ranging contributions vowed women have made to church and nation."-Kathleen Sprows Cummings,University of Notre Dame

Meet the Author

Margaret M. McGuinness is Professor of Religion and Executive Director of the Office of Mission Integration at La Salle University, Philadelphia. She served as co-editor of American Catholic Studies from 2001 until 2013. Previous publications include: A Catholic Studies Reader and Neighbors and Missionaries: A History of the Sisters of Our Lady of Christian Doctrine.

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