When the Sisters Said Farewell: The Transition of Leadership in Catholic Elementary Schools

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When the Sisters Said Farewell tells an important story of the contributions of Catholic elementary schools to the United States by chronicling the experiences and insights of religious women (nuns) who were the last members of their communities to serve in parish elementary schools, and of those lay men and women who were the first to serve in those roles traditionally filled by the sisters. The dramatic numerical transition from the preponderance of religious women to lay leadership from the 1960s to the 1980s ...

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When the Sisters Said Farewell: The Transition of Leadership in Catholic Elementary Schools

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Overview

When the Sisters Said Farewell tells an important story of the contributions of Catholic elementary schools to the United States by chronicling the experiences and insights of religious women (nuns) who were the last members of their communities to serve in parish elementary schools, and of those lay men and women who were the first to serve in those roles traditionally filled by the sisters. The dramatic numerical transition from the preponderance of religious women to lay leadership from the 1960s to the 1980s has been documented; this book describes the how and why sisters left Catholic schools. This narrative also provides instructive insights about leadership, transitions, and current trends in religious life and Catholic education. As all educators in Catholic, private, and public schools grapple with questions of delivering an excellent education, this book offers a glimpse into the workings of one of the most amazing educational enterprises in the history of the United States.

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Editorial Reviews

Conscience Magazine
The book primarily uses case studies and anecdotes to give a face to the women religious who helped build what was the largest private school system in the world for a time. . . . The book’s most powerful impact, however, is through the narratives of individual sisters and schools, giving a behind-the-scenes look at just how much goes into a Catholic school and the grieving process that happened when a relationship between an order and a school is lost.
Thomas C. Hunt
Father Michael Caruso, SJ's book, When the Sisters Said Farewell…, addresses a crucialmultidimensional issue in the history of Catholic education in the United States.In so doing, he delves into the depths of the personnel who made the voluntary school "system" possible andunmatched in the annals of human history - the teaching orders of sisters, commonly called "nuns." Hegoes far beyond the recapitulation of numbers and financial exigencies and captures the basicelements of human interest.It is a book most worthy of athoughtful read. I highly recommend it.
Timothy Walch
Sister-teachers both in heaven and on earth are saying: "Thank you, Father Michael, for telling our story!" Father Caruso has provided us with the first scholarly assessment of the vital role of women religious in the evolution of American Catholic education. This is an important book that documents both triumph and tragedy. It should be read by anyone concerned about the future of parish schools.
Virginia Shimabukuro Ed.D
Fr. Michael Caruso tells a compelling story of the legacy of religious sister educators, revealing their profound contributions to the distinctive culture of Catholic schooling. Through their voices, he brings us to a deeper awareness of our historical roots and the magnitude of the call for leadership to the future of Catholic education.
Sr. M. Paul McCaughey
When the Sisters Said Farewell…reads like a conversation around the convent's kitchen table, with the narrative sprinkled with experience as much as data. Father Caruso captures the authentic pain of the American Sisters' transition out the sacred space of their classrooms - and he does so with fairness, sowing a few seeds of hope along the way.
American Catholic Studies
As a short study, this delightful substantive book traces that nineteenth-century roots of Catholic education in the United States and demonstrates how both the influx of nearly eight million Catholic immigrants and the Nativist movement directed against them created the momentum for the establishment of Catholic schools.

The author illustrates these points with carefully researched individual case stories. the cases are described in such clarity combined with simplicity that one gets the sense of almost having been there.

The book is well-researched and contains two appendices, one of letters and another with titles of pertinent documents. It will have genuine appeal for anyone associated with Catholic elementary schools in the United States due to the rich variety of perspectives it offers.

Ellen Skerrett
What is lost when Catholic schools close and disappear from American life? Fr. Michael Caruso, S.J. strikes an elegiac note in When the Sisters Said Farewell, a loving tribute to the crucial role women religious played in urban education. Sadly, like housework and laundry, the contributions of Catholic Sisters become apparent only when they cease to exist.
National Catholic Educational Association
When the Sisters Said Farewell is an excellent source for understanding both the role of women religious in establishing Catholic schools and the role of their lay successors in ensuring the viability of today’s Catholic schools.
Catholic Library World
Caruso’s When the Sisters Said Farewell the Tradition of Leadership in Catholic Elementary Schools addresses such a pivotal period in the history of the Catholic Church in the United States that it merits ‘must haves’ status for every Catholic university, seminary , and perish library. A powerful book to deepen understanding of the magnitude and nuances of this major historical transition, the title is highly recommended reading for all catholic school principals, teachers, catechists, and laity.
Conscience
The book primarily uses case studies and anecdotes to give a face to the women religious who helped build what was the largest private school system in the world for a time….The book’s most powerful impact, however, is through the narratives of individual sisters and schools, giving a behind-the-scenes look at just how much goes into a Catholic school and the grieving process that happened when a relationship between an order and a school is lost.
Karen M. Ristau
As a laywoman teaching in a Catholic school who walked through the experiences described in When the Sisters Said Farewell: The Triumph, Trail, and Legacy of Nuns in US Catholic Schools, I found Father Caruso’s text insightful and reflective of the many ways transitions played out in school and parishes when sisters left. The interviews, which enrich the story, help the reader cherish the past and remain hopeful about the future. The history of this era in Catholic education must not be forgotten. This text will help us remember.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781610486521
  • Publisher: R&L Education
  • Publication date: 3/5/2012
  • Pages: 170
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Saint Ignatius College Prep

Archbishop of New York

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Table of Contents

Introduction—Ever-Present teaching sisters: A cherished period Chapter 1—What led to the massive Catholic school system?
Chapter 2—Finding the sisters Chapter 3—Preparing the sisters for teaching, making sacrifices Chapter 4—From the motherhouse to the classroom Chapter 5—Working with pastors Chapter 6—Changes in religious life lead to departures Chapter 7—The sisters reflect upon their experience Chapter 8—When a school closed Chapter 9—Lay leadership emerges Chapter 10—Transition and signs of renewal Chapter 11—The Future of Catholic schools and the legacy of the sisters Post Script Endnotes Bibliography About the author Index

Fr. Michael P. Caruso, SJ, is the president of Saint Ignatius College Prep in Chicago, IL. He was formerly an associate professor of education and the chair of the leadership department at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA. He has written and lectured on the legacy and importance of Catholic schools.

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