Witness to Integrity: The Crisis of the Immaculate Heart Community of California

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Witness to Integrity is a first-person account of the historic dispute between the Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters (IHM) and James Francis McIntyre, the Cardinal Archbishop of Los Angeles. Former Mother General of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters and president of the Immaculate Heart Community, Anita Caspary, IHM, tells her story of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters' motivations and struggles in their claim for authority and freedom to live a Christian life in accordance with their consciences. The conflicts that lead a part of the Immaculate Heart Sisters 'Community to become an ecumenical community are described with vividness.

Anita Caspary's personal narrative reflections provide in-depth details of the story that has captured media attention in books, television documentaries, and plays. In addition, the use of original sources from the Immaculate Heart Community archives that have not been open to the public assists in producing new insights and correcting inaccuracies and myths.

Chapters are The Accusation," *Memories of a Catholic Girlhood, - *Background and Beginnings, - *Called to be a Nun, - *Teacher, Professor, and Administrator, - *The Sixties and the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart, - *Cardinal James F. McIntyre, - *The Archdiocesan Visitations, - *The 1967 Chapter of Renewal: Creating the Vision, - *Embracing the Vision, - *The Cardinal's Response to Renewal, - *The Vatican Visitations, - *A Test Case for the Vatican, - *A New Life for Religious Women, - and *The Immaculate Heart Community. -

Anita M. Caspary, IHM, PhD, was president of the Immaculate Heart College from 1957 to 1963. She was Mother General of the Immaculate Heart Sisters from 1963 to 1969 and president of the Immaculate Heart Community from 1970 to 1973. She is the author of several articles about the challenge of the Roman Catholic hierarchy by the Immaculate Heart Sisters and has taught in the graduate level for the last three decades. Currently, she writes and teaches poetry at the Immaculate Heart Community in Los Angeles, California.


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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Anita Caspary’s important and anticipated account captures the challenges facing this vanguard confronted by long-established ecclesiastic authority. In the process, the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary bore the brunt of the opposition, made smooth the path for others, and added their eloquent appeal to the call for redress raised across the feminist spectrum.
Gloria Ricci Lothrop, Professor Emerita, California State University

As a Council Father and a participant in the struggles of the IHM Sisters, this dramatic case history gripped me in a unique, poignant way. It erupts as the facts unfold, with passion, courage, determination, precisions. It called me to relive some of the basic issues emerging from Vatican II. This is the story of courageous women who embraced both the challenge and the pain in pursuit of their vision of Vatican II. The Immaculate Heart Community is reborn, blazing fresh trails, opening new possibilities for others to follow. I recommend this book to anyone who cares about our Church and is scanning the horizon for signs of new life.
Remi J. De Roo, Retired Bishop of Victoria, B.C., Canada

While its interest to students of religious history of canon law is self-evident, Witness to Integrity can also be highly recommended to readers with a general interest in education, women's studies, or the social/political history of the 'western' world in the mid-twentieth century.
Mystics Quarterly

Finally we have in print the story of one of the most important controversies in the post-Vatican II U.S. Catholic Church. Anita Caspary, who courageously and prudently led the Immaculate Heart Community during its painful struggle with the Cardinal Archbishop of Los Angeles in the 1960s, tells the story with grace, clarity, hope, and objectivity. This book is must reading for all interested in U.S. Catholic history and the role of women in the Catholic Church.
Charles E. Curran, Elizabeth Scurlock University Professor of Human Values, Southern Methodist University

Re-entering these experiences renews an admiration for the overwhelming dedication, courage, and responsible actions undertaken by communities of religious women in implementing the directives of Vatican II. Re-entering these experiences also re-opens the wound of the continuing abuse and demeaning of women by the hierarchical system of the Roman Catholic Church. Sincere gratitude for Anita Caspary's willingness to be led by the Spirit and for her willingness to share the story.
Francis B. Rothluebber, Colombiere, Idyllwild, California

This is the tragic story of how Cardinal James Francis McIntyre, with the help of the congregation of religious, tried to destroy one of the most important and most effective religious communities of women in the United States. While the cardinal won his battle, the Immaculate Heart community continues to survive and to grow, but with the pain and suffering the community was forced to endure. It's a crime that calls to heaven for vengeance.
Andrew M. Greeley, Professor of Social Science, The University of Arizona

Thirty years after the fact, many in our institutional church are still mired in issues of authority and control. Caspary's story is not only a witness to integrity. It is a beacon of hope and courage in a time of crisis.

Readers of this book will come away with a clearer understanding of the struggles for organizational change that will insure dignity for women and other less advantaged groups in all social institutions.
Catholic Books Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814627709
  • Publisher: Liturgical Press, The
  • Publication date: 2/28/2003
  • Series: Sacra Pagina Ser.
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 312
  • Sales rank: 938,661
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents

Ch. 1 The Accusation 1
Ch. 2 Memories of a Catholic Girlhood 7
Ch. 3 Background and Beginnings 15
Ch. 4 Called to Be a Nun 25
Ch. 5 Teacher, Professor, and Administrator 31
Ch. 6 The Sixties and the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart 45
Ch. 7 Cardinal James F. McIntyre 55
Ch. 8 The Archdiocesan Visitations 67
Ch. 9 The 1967 Chapter of Renewal: Creating the Vision 85
Ch. 10 Embracing the Vision 109
Ch. 11 The Cardinal's Response to Renewal 119
Ch. 12 The Vatican Visitations 149
Ch. 13 A Test Case for the Vatican 183
Ch. 14 A New Life for Religious Women 209
Ch. 15 The Immaculate Heart Community 219
Epilogue 223
App. A Background of the Ninth General Chapter's Decree on Education 225
App. B Actions on the Part of the Ordinary Which Have Created Difficulties for the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart 231
App. C Psychological Influences on the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart 239
App. D Decrees of the Ninth General Chapter of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, October 1967 (Abbreviated Form) 243
App. E Letter to Pope Paul VI from Sister Anita M. Caspary, I.H.M. 263
App. F Talk to the Immaculate Heart Community by Sister Anita M. Caspary, I.H.M., December 6, 1969 267
Bibliography 273
Index 281
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2003

    So Gripping I read it twice!

    This is an amazing story about integrity - - pain and betrayal. I was so stunned...I read it again. Witness to Integrity goes far beyond the struggles of a group of nursing and teaching nuns who were ordered by their Church to renew -- to transform their Rule, their way of life -- from practices originating in the 13th Century to those relevant within the 20th Century -- while being battered by a cantankerous Cardinal who was adamant that no such thing would happen in his Diocese. Anita Caspary's book is about integrity in facing the strains of these confounding forces - and it is also about Roman Catholic Episcopal Power and Betrayal. On the one hand, we see Power, rooted in integrity, used to 'give itself away' as the Mother General and her nuns, assume responsibility for themselves as individuals and their Community. With her other hand, Anita Caspary lifts a veil exposing the details of the use of Power working in the shadows of the highest levels of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in Rome to 'indulge' a 'brother' Cardinal's drive to obstruct the legally prescribed Renewal within the Order of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Anita Caspary reveals what such wounds to trust and integrity did to the Sisters, to their Community, and what they did about it. -- You can feel the arching tension, you cringe at the anger, you share the piercing incredulity, the agony of renouncing lifelong Vows, and you know where and when integrity and purpose converge. Anita Caspary earned a doctorate in literature at Stanford University - and she knows how to write a gripping account of human actions. Witness to Integrity takes us to the heart of some of the dilemmas facing religion in the world today; and into the caldrons of power misused -- not just in the Catholic Church, but in hierarchies of every kind. There is much to be found within and between the lines of Anita Caspary's book -- a book which stands out as an 'Act of Integrity.' P.S.: There is also a lot of wry humor - be sure to read the footnotes.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2003

    A Distorted Tale of Radical Feminism

    While well edited for the viewing audience, this works falls far short with respect to the facts. The Sisters of the Immaculate Heart were cleaved when some of them chose to blatantly disobey the Archbishop of Los Angeles, so they could 'do their own thing.' Rather than attempting to justify the non-Catholic 'Immaculate Heart Community of California', Anita would have been of greater service if she would have spent the same effort chronicling the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary which still exist in Los Angeles to this day. An honest to goodness religious order of Catholic sisters, and not a group of retrograde radical feminists.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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