Catholic nuns and sisters in a secular age examines the changes in religious life
for women religious in Britain from 1945 to 1990 identifying how community and
individual lives were altered. This work is grounded in three core premises:
women religious were influenced by and participated in the wider social
movements of the long 1960s; women’s religious institutes were transnational
entities and part of a larger global happening; and the struggles of renewal
were linked to competing and contradictory ideas of collective, institutional
identities. The work pivots on the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965), but
considers pre and post Vatican II social, cultural and religious events and
social movements of the 1960s as influencers in these changes. It interrogates
‘lived experience’ by examining the day-to-day lives of women religious. Though
rooted in the experiences of women religious in Britain, the book probes the
relationships and interconnectivities between women religious within and across
national divides as they move from institutions embedded in uniformity to the
acceptance of cultural plurality. It also engages with the histories of the
social movements of the long 1960s. For too long, religion has been relegated to
its own silo, unlinked to the ‘radical sixties’ and depicted as ultimately
obstructionist to its social movements. To contest this, female religious life
is examined as a microcosm of change in the Catholic Church pointing to the ‘new
thinking and freer lifestyles’ that allowed for the questioning of institutional
Alberigo and other,
001-031 FaithFamily Ch 1 Intro.indd 5
Faith in the family
‘Bologna-school’ inspired scholars,18 or the theologically progressive
strands of North American Catholicism that draw authority and sanction for present-day activism through reference to conciliar changes.19
This book eschews either approach through adopting a ‘livedreligioushistory’ methodology, which takes seriously the immediate period of
conciliar ‘reception’, that is from 1964 until the early 1970s, when
contemporary interpreters were caught up in the whirlwind
to Alastair Campbell’s infamous edict: ‘we don’t do God’. This is true
of both neo-secularisationalists such as Brown, and of practitioners of
‘livedreligioushistory’ – a new methodology based on critiquing the
‘constraining academic paradigms surrounding secularisation and
modernity’. 21 Writers in
both camps leave little or no trace of their own theological
convictions, even in forewords
Folk”: Educational Reform 1944 and the Catholic Laity of England and Wales ’, History of Education , 35 ( 2006 ), 91 – 119 .
81 British Library: ‘The Young Christian Workers’ (undated), p. 3. For more on the Young Christian Workers see Sylvia Collins and Michael P. Hornsby-Smith , ‘ The Rise and Fall of the YCW in England ’, Journal of Contemporary Religion , 17 ( 2002 ), 87 – 100 .
82 Alana Harris , Faith in the Family: A LivedReligiousHistory of English Catholicism, 1945–1982 ( Manchester : Manchester University Press , 2013 ), p
ecumenical dilemma’, Recusant History, 30 (2011), 573–87; J. Davies, ‘A
cult from above: the cause for canonisation of John Fisher and Thomas More’, Recusant
History, 28 (2007), 458–74; A. Harris, Faith in the Family: A LivedReligiousHistory
of English Catholicism, 1945–1982 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013),
5 Norman, Catholic Church, pp. 201–43, especially pp. 205–6, 216–20.
6 R. O’Day, The Debate on the English Reformation (London: Methuen 1986), pp. 54–83;
M. Bentley, Modernizing England’s Past: English Historiography in the Age of
was reprinted by the Catholic weekly The Universe in 1919. See Susan McGhee, Monsignor
Taylor of Carfin (Glasgow: J. Burns, 1972), p. 176.
11 For an extended discussion of the hagiography of Saint Thérèse, see Alana Harris, Faith
in the Family: A LivedReligiousHistory of Catholicism, 1945–1982 (Manchester: Manchester
University Press, 2013), pp. 208–24.
12 Thérèse Martin, The Story of a Soul: A New Translation (Brewster: Paraclete Press, 2006),
Thérèse of Lisieux
13 See ‘Witness 2: Thomas Nimmo Taylor’, www
Britain: Understanding Secularisation 1800–2000 , 2nd edn (London: Routledge, 2009 ); and Alana Harris, Faith in the Family: A LivedReligiousHistory of English Catholicism, 1945–82 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013).
9 Adrian Hastings, ‘The British Churches in the War and Post-War Reconstruction’, in Andrew R. Morton (ed.), God’s Will in a Time of Crisis: A Colloquium Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Baillie Commission (Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh, 1994), pp. 4–13 (p. 4
Eaton , ‘ What Became of the Children of
Mary? ’, in M.
Hornsby-Smith (ed.), Catholics in England 1950–2000: Historical and
Sociological Perspectives ( London , 1999 ), p. 220 . Also see A.
Harris , Faith in the Family: A LivedReligiousHistory
of English Catholicism, 1945–1982 ( Manchester , 2013