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Comment: Publisher: Fordham University Press
Date of Publication: 2014
Binding: hardcover
Edition: 1st Edition
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Description: xiv 356pp hardback, black boards silver-lettered in wrapper, near fine in a near fine wrapper
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Women of Faith: The Chicago Sisters of Mercy and the Evolution of a Religious Community Hardcover – 21 Jul 2014

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"A timely and probing analysis of the Chicago Mercy's and how they met the unremitting challenges of both growth and restructuring over their 150 year history. The particular strength of Mary Beth Fraser Connolly's book, Women of Faith: The Chicago Sisters of Mercy and the Evolution of a Religious Community derives from its in-depth examination of the events and decisions arising from Vatican II. The process of change and adaptation was demanding offering no easy answers. This research contributes much to our understanding of Catholic women's identities, feminisms and leadership."-Carmen M. Mangion, Birkbeck, University of London "Fraser Connelly has penned a book that an be read by a broad audience. She provides good integration and balance of both primary and secondary sources with an extensive bibliography for the reader. Her chronological yet thematic organization interweaves the ongoing narrative with focus on important themes for each time period." "Connolly offers a well-constructed historical survey of the Chicago Sisters of Mercy from their beginnings in 1846 until 2008...The book's strength is its focus on the women themselves-- their community, spiritual lives, and ministry...Copious notes, a helpful glossary, and an appendix render the sources accessible to researchers.--Recommended" --Choice Magazine

About the Author

Mary Beth Fraser Connolly is the Assistant Director of the Lilly Fellows Program and Assistant Adjunct in History at Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, Indiana. Her research interests include the history of American women and religion, with a particular interest in American Catholic women religious.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x91a6881c) out of 5 stars 1 review
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x91c1554c) out of 5 stars Catholic nuns as pioneers in the USA. 21 May 2014
By B. Wolinsky - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Chicago is a city with character. It gave us great writers, great artists, great musicians, and unfortunately some notorious criminals. Like most US cities, it was a boomtown that grew in spurts, and when urbanization happens to quickly, you get all the problems of a city. Fortunately the McGirr sisters (Mary Vincent and Mary Frances Xavier) arrived in the 1840’s to open hospitals and schools, before Chicago would be renowned. They were there through the Civil War, the great fire of 1871, and all of the great and terrible things that Chicago would be renowned for.

Women of Faith begins with the nuns’ entry into American life in a time of anti-Catholic sentiment. Nuns were seen as strange curiosities, but they weren’t the subject of attacks or anything like that. By the time the Civil War began there was a massive Irish Catholic presence in the military and the nuns provided nursing care for Union soldiers, even aboard the ships heading south.
According to the events of this book, Convents seems to have been a place for women who wanted careers and not marriage. By entering as a postulant, a woman would have a place to live, a job, and a chance to go to college. There was greater pressure on women to marry and have children in the pre-lib days, and even if you kept your job after you married, you’d still have to cook and clean for your husband on top of your job, and once you had kids, forget about a career. Convents weren’t luxurious, and the nuns probably weren’t paid much for their work, and they only got to take two college classes a semester, but it was better for some than living with your parents or being married to a jerk. And the convent schools were run by nuns, so there wouldn’t be a nasty male principal to deal with.

Perhaps the point of this great book is that religious groups provided most of the services for education, health, and child care in the days when the government didn’t. Today, fewer women want to be nuns, and a lot of Catholic schools in Chicago (and other cities) are closing. Even the Jewish schools went the same way, and there are many buildings in the city that used to house Jewish schools or vocational centers, now empty or turned into apartments.

This is a great book for the study of US history. The Sisters of Mercy were an integral part of life in the USA, particularly Chicago and other Midwestern cities, from the prairie days right to the crumbling of the cities, right up into the present, where parents are struggling to get their kids into the best school they can.
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