Called to Serve
Winner, 2014 Catholic Book Award in History presented by the Catholic Press Association 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
O'Toole, Boston College
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 to 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."
Sprows Cummings, University of Notre Dame
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.
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.
researched and engagingly written, Called
to Serve offers a compelling portrait of Catholic women religious
throughout American history.
- 2013 New York University Press
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