Search results

Abstract only
Carmen M. Mangion

4 Evangelising The Sisters shall on the first day of every year make a renewal of their vows to excite in their hearts an increase of fervour in the service of their Heavenly Spouse by so solemn a recollection of the obligations they have contracted.1 This passage from the constitutions of the Religious Sisters of Mercy reminded the Mercy sisters of the significance of the work they performed in the ‘service of their Heavenly Spouse’. This was their solemn obligation, and the renewal of their vows each year was meant to revitalise their efforts towards their

in Contested identities
Catholic women religious in nineteenth-century England and Wales

Roman Catholic women's congregations are an enigma of nineteenth century social history. Over 10,000 women, establishing and managing significant Catholic educational, health care and social welfare institutions in England and Wales, have virtually disappeared from history. In nineteenth-century England, representations of women religious were ambiguous and contested from both within and without the convent. This book places women religious in the centre of nineteenth-century social history and reveals how religious activism shaped the identity of Catholic women religious. It is devoted to evolution of religious life and the early monastic life of the women. Catholic women were not pushed into becoming women religious. On the basis of their available options, they chose a path that best suited their personal, spiritual, economic and vocational needs. The postulancy and novitiate period formed a rite of passage that tested the vocation of each aspirant. The book explores the religious activism of women religious through their missionary identity and professional identity. The labour of these women was linked to their role as evangelisers. The book deals with the development of a congregation's corporate identity which brought together a disparate group of women under the banner of religious life. It looks specifically at class and ethnicity and the women who entered religious life, and identifies the source of authority for the congregation and the individual sister.

Carmen M. Mangion

educational, health care or social welfare institutions. Religious institutions were stamped with the congregation’s special spirit of evangelisation and were essential for the growth of Catholic missions in England. These developments in Catholic women’s religious life 4 5 6 Joan Perkin, Women and Marriage in Nineteenth-Century England (London: Routledge, 1988), p. 226. Mrs William Grey, Old Maids; A Lecture (London: William Ridgway, 1875), p. 5. Mrs William (Maria Shirreff) Grey (1816–1906) was an early promoter of women’s education. Anglican women entered Anglican

in Contested identities
Abstract only
Carmen M. Mangion

were more empowered than has been acknowledged by historians. They were active agents in manipulating their world and shaping their individual future as well as the future of their congregations. The evangelical nature of their ‘call’ led them beyond the boundaries of their convent grounds; they were fervent evangelisers, spreading the Catholic faith to those they educated, nursed and cared for. The growth of the numbers of congregations and convents in the nineteenth century attests to their utility, their drive and their success as evangelists. Part I of this book

in Contested identities
Abstract only
Changing ministries
Carmen Mangion

communities and linked to the parish, often in areas of high unemployment or impoverishment and were typically invited by its priest, who requested their support. There is a long, disregarded history of women religious as parish sisters. Some religious institutes such as the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul were well known for their parish visiting from their arrival in Salford in 1847 into the 1970s; they built ‘strong networks, being known across family generations and by all parts of the community’. O’Brien notes that their ‘Evangelisation and sacramental

in Catholic nuns and sisters in a secular age
Abstract only
Carmen M. Mangion

objectives were clearly articulated in congregation constitutions which decreed that women religious laboured ‘for the salvation of souls’. As women religious, they were called to evangelise. Connecting these activities to their missionary identity is straightforward, but adding to their cache of identities a ‘professional identity’ can be, problematic and discomfiting. This difficulty is not associated solely with Catholic women religious. As Kathryn Gleadle observed in her work on nineteenth-century British women radicals and Unitarians, ‘Evangelical notions of women

in Contested identities
Abstract only
Carmen M. Mangion

effective evangelisers. They were critical to their working identities, as evangelisers and professional women, as will be examined in Part II.

in Contested identities
Carmen M. Mangion

elevate public morality.8 These women, while supporting nineteenth-century notions of femininity, became archetypes of women’s agency, authority and power.9 Female voices such as theirs were not the norm, yet they successfully challenged other Christian men and women to join in their efforts. Women religious supported similar notions of femininity but their religious activism and evangelisation, as has already been discussed in previous chapters, was more subtle.10 They were exemplars of women’s authority despite the restrictions of a communitarian lifestyle lived under

in Contested identities
Abstract only
Carmen Mangion

only to see themselves as women but to critique female and male authority and power and challenge women’s subordination to an ideal of religious womanhood that to some, appeared antiquated. It began with a book In 1957, the charismatic Cardinal Leo Jozef Suenens, Archbishop of Brussels-Malines, spoke at the Congress of States of Perfection 41 emphasising that religious sisters were significant auxiliaries to clergy (as were all laity) in evangelisation. He voiced concern, though, that they were out of sync with modern womanhood and this hindered their

in Catholic nuns and sisters in a secular age
Carmen Mangion

religious institutes, they had historically founded both small and large communities. 95 Others, like the Dutch Sisters of Charity of Our Lady, Mother of Mercy and the Society of the Sacred Heart, held discussions on community size where advocates of small communities argued that large convents were a deterrent to evangelisation and internal and external relationship-building. A study of the experiences of the Society of the Sacred Heart provides one detailed example of the re-engineering of the local governance structures of community life. Table 3.1 Community

in Catholic nuns and sisters in a secular age