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Library Journal Review
Religious sisters have helped shape the history of the United States in important ways, with prayer and without fanfare, through the schools, hospitals, orphanages, and other institutions they established. McGuinness (religion, LaSalle Univ., Neighbors and Missionaries: A History of the Sisters of Our Lady of Christian Doctrine)Åculls wide-ranging historicalÅevidence,ÅexaminesÅEuropean roots, andÅbringsÅcontributions to greater light and perspective with her collective storyÅof many communities across the United States, beginning with the Ursuline sisters in New Orleans in 1727. She draws on histories covering earlier decades (e.g., George C. Stewart Jr.'s Marvels of Charity; Carol Coburn's Spirited Lives) and blends stories buried in academic and archival sources not readily available. The book covers the post-Vatican II returns to tradition,Åas well asÅcontemporary service involving peace and justice issues, the environment, immigration, and even martyrdom. The text might have been enhanced by maps but includes black-and-white photos. -VERDICTÅThis is a comprehensive, objective, and readable contribution to a subject of growing interest despite fewer numbers of sisters. Recommended for both general and academic readership.-Anna Donnelly, St. Johns. Univ. Lib., Jamaica, NY (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
This history by McGuinness (La Salle Univ.) is a commanding charge through nearly three centuries of Catholic women religious in the US. Starting with the Ursulines' 1727 arrival in New Orleans and ending with the Vatican's 2009 investigation of American women religious, McGuinness's coverage is impressive. She describes this book not as a history of "great women," but as a collective history. A variety of religious orders appear, including the often ignored history of contemplative, cloistered religious communities. This history will not necessarily surprise as it describes the astounding role of women religious in education, health care, and social services. Familiar names and events like Elizabeth Ann Seton, the burning of the Ursuline convent, and changes associated with Vatican II shape the narrative. The historical themes are also familiar--the unpredictable relationships between bishops and sisters, their confounding of gender roles, and sisters' role in creating a Catholic presence in the United States. McGuinness's most important contribution to the study of nuns in the US is to have gathered a diverse and widely distributed collection of scholarly materials in a succinct 200 pages. A healthy bibliography guides readers into the details of the broad-angle history McGuinness skillfully provides. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through researchers. K. A. Dugan Northwestern University