Fifty years ago, nearly 200,000 religious sisters worked in Catholic schools, hospitals and other institutions throughout the United States. American Catholics honored these women of faith who founded and built these flourishing works of mercy.
Then came the ideological shifts and moral upheavals of the 1960s, and ever since, most women's orders in the United States have been in a state of crisis. Now the sisters are aging, with fewer and fewer younger women to take their place. Perhaps related to this demographic shift is the continuing doctrinal confusion that has come under the scrutiny of the Vatican.
Using the archival records of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and other prominent groups of sisters, journalist and author Ann Carey shows how feminist activists unraveled American women's religious communities from their leadership positions in national organizations and large congregations. She also explains the recent and necessary interventions by the Vatican.
After examining the many forces that have contributed to the crisis, Carey reports on a promising sign of renewal in American religious life: the growing number of young women attracted to older communities that have retained their identity and newly formed, yet traditional, congregations.
Ann Carey is a veteran journalist who specializes in bioethics and Catholic women religious. Her work has been published widely in periodicals such as Our Sunday Visitor, National Catholic Register, Crisis, and Catholic World Report. She has received Catholic Press Association awards in news and feature writing as well as investigative reporting, and has taught writing and journalism at the college level. Ann and her husband live in South Bend, Indiana, where they enjoy the company of their children and grandchildren. Paperback421 pages