Local and global
Changing ministries
in Catholic nuns and sisters in a secular age
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Chapter 6 interrogates how religious institutions re-examined their ministries in the 1970s and 1980s, influenced by a discourse of social justice grounded in solidarity with those marginalised by society and in line with a voluntary sector re-energised by the social movements of the long 1960s. In addressing the role of women religious as purveyors of religion, it suggests a rethinking of the spiritual and corporal works of mercy that realigned them with the politics of mercy. Alternate ministries were both local and global, but united by their focus on those marginalised by society. Whether working as parish sisters, in convent schools or in the barriadas of Peru, female religious held on to this larger objective of social justice that was not narrowed by geography. What linked these ministries was a more global thinking of their role as religious: their work revealed both a local mission done globally and a global mission done locally. Added to these shifts in ministries are the complexities of the realisation that the decline in numbers would not be reversed and institutional work running large schools and hospitals needed to be rethought.

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