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Called to Serve

A History of Nuns in America

Called to Serve by Margaret  M. McGuinness
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Winner, 2014 Catholic Book Award in History presented by the Catholic Press Association
Forgenerations of American Catholics, the face of their church was, quiteliterally, a woman's face—the nursing sister in the hospital where they wereborn, the teaching sister in the school where they were educated, the caringsister who helped them through times of trouble. McGuinness recovers thecompelling story of these sisters and puts them back at the center of AmericanCatholic history."
—James M.O'Toole, Boston College
"Conveysthe history of American women’s religious life in its astonishing breadth anddiversity. McGuinness writes with the authority of a scholar and the ease of astoryteller. Her collective portrait of the women who have for so longrepresented the face of the American Catholic church will be useful to not onlyto historians of women and of religion in the United States, but also togeneral readers who wish to learn about the often hidden and far-rangingcontributions vowed women have made to church and nation."
—KathleenSprows Cummings, University of Notre Dame
For manyAmericans, nuns and sisters are the face of the Catholic Church. Far morevisible than priests, Catholic women religious teach at schools, foundhospitals, offer food to the poor, and minister to those in need. Their workhas shaped the American Catholic Church throughout its history. Yet despitetheir high profile, a concise history of American Catholic sisters and nuns hasyet to be published. In Called to Serve, MargaretM. McGuinness provides the reader with an overview of the history of Catholicwomen religious in American life, from the colonial period to the present.
The earlyyears of religious life in the United States found women religious in immigrantcommunities and on the frontier, teaching, nursing, and caring for marginalizedgroups. In the second half of the twentieth century, however, the role of womenreligious began to change. They have fewer members than ever, and theirpopulation is aging rapidly. And the method of their ministry is changing aswell: rather than merely feeding and clothing the poor, religious sisters arenow 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 religiousmust also struggle to strike a balance between the responsibilities of theirfaith and the limitations imposed upon them by their church.
Rigorouslyresearched and engagingly written, Calledto Serve offers a compelling portrait of Catholic women religiousthroughout American history.
   Instructor's Guide   
NYU Press; March 2013
272 pages; ISBN 9780814789261
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Title: Called to Serve
Author: Margaret M. McGuinness
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