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. Many also became involved in nationalism, both ­constitutional and republican.29 Still, we know little about Irish women’s religious lives. In the ­revision of his seminal Priests and People in Pre-Famine Ireland (1984), Sean Connolly admits he did not ‘properly addres[s]’ gender or women’s experiences in his study of popular religion. In 2000, he called for more research, arguing that revisionist readings of sources and the opening of new archival depositories ‘will eventually make it possible to fill this gap in our knowledge’.30 Irish Women and the Creation of

in Irish women and the creation of modern Catholicism, 1850–1950
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-centred, lived history. It uses material from the archives as well as oral testimony to tell a gendered story. Women’s voices in many of the major religions have been relegated as subsidiary (if not invisible) in published histories. The women who have participated in this study often engaged with the world as religious catechists and evangelists and as educators, social workers or nurses. In these roles, they influenced the lives of Catholics and non-Catholics. This project reminds us of the significance of women in the larger history of religion and analyses their

in Catholic nuns and sisters in a secular age
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Post-war modernity and religious vocations

vocation story was evolving. This anonymous handwritten poem found in the files of the archives of the Sisters of Mercy dated (likely by an archivist) ‘ c. 1900’ illustrates characteristics expected of vocation stories. Vocation I hear a voice, how deep the sound, Just like the murmur of the sea, And in my heart that echo found The words were these ‘Come follow me.’   Place not thy hopes in earthly joys, Ambition, dreams, or family; These are as frail as children’s toys, Forsake them all ‘Come Follow Me.’   You must forsake them from thy

in Catholic nuns and sisters in a secular age

space was un- (or sometimes re-) regulated. 12 Like every shift in religious life already discussed, the extent of change in spatial reordering varied by religious institute, and sometimes even between communities within the same religious congregation. The timing of changes differed too, but early shifts in the practice of cloister faintly visible in archival sources from the 1940s quickened with the publication of Council documents Perfectae Caritatis (Adaptation and Renewal of Religious Life, 1965) and Lumen Gentium (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 1964

in Catholic nuns and sisters in a secular age
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establishments they built and managed. This development has also led to the opening of congregation archives to social and religious historians. Congregational archives contain valuable sources documenting the history, works and life of a congregation and are also a rich source for social historians researching topics as varied as piety and prostitution, poverty and philanthropy. It is these archives that have provided the rich collection of sources that inform this book. In addition, census reports, diocesan records, periodicals and contemporary texts have been examined to

in Contested identities
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question episcopal and clerical demands. Others readily complied with episcopal and 238 Contested identities clerical authority. The great majority of women religious were the ordinary followers: teachers, nurses, administrators, cooks, portresses and domestic help. They are seldom seen or heard in the convent archives, but nonetheless it was also their energy and their drive which fuelled the growth of Catholic institutions in the nineteenth century. This history of women religious has an important place in the construction of nineteenth-century gender history as it

in Contested identities

was relatable to a British audience. 68 Texts like Bride of a King are rarely found in convent archives as they are typically ephemeral to the archive collections but this book was catalogued in the archives of the Sisters of Mercy in Handsworth. 69 The annotation on the front cover suggests teaching sisters lent the book to fourth-form students in their schools, so young girls aged thirteen or fourteen. It also appeared in another form, as a serial in the Catholic Pictorial , a weekly Catholic newspaper. Here, it was advertised as ‘The True Fairy Tale – The

in Catholic nuns and sisters in a secular age

emphasised convent tensions, though archive documents demonstrate they existed. A closer reading of the documents and analysis of the testimonies suggest that convent relationships were in flux from the 1940s to the 1980s. Material from the archives, in the form of reports, correspondence and inter-community newsletters, allow us to hear both institutional and personal concerns and enthusiasms about the changing nature of personal interactions, from the formal to the relational. Those in authority, sometimes unreservedly, sometimes in grudging obedience, encouraged less

in Catholic nuns and sisters in a secular age
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Children of Poor Catholics and Providing an Asylum for Destitute Orphans, 1811–1861’ (1995), p. 139. Cited from National Archives, CCE AR 1850/1, p. 818. Patricia Branca, Silent Sisterhood: Middle-Class Women in the Victorian Home (London: Croom-Helm, 1975), p. 152. Class and ethnicity 183 Conduct manuals published in the nineteenth century instructed Victorian women on how to achieve this perfection.4 Women religious had their own specialised version of these secular conduct manuals. Constitutions, customs books, religious biographies and necrologies were some of the

in Contested identities
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Changing ministries

Board and the Provincial Board of the Netherlands, Rome, March 11th–15th 1974’. 2 Bernard Longden , ‘ Widening Participation in Higher Education ’, in R. John Elford (ed.), The Foundation of Hope: Turning Dreams into Reality ( Liverpool : Liverpool University Press , 2003 ), p. 56. ‘Nottingham Loss is Liverpool Gain’, Catholic Herald (1 December 1961), p. 15. I have been unable to locate the archives of Christ’s College and I am grateful to Susan O’Brien, who was employed by its successor, Liverpool Hope University, for explaining its significance in

in Catholic nuns and sisters in a secular age