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Women of FaithThe Chicago Sisters of Mercy and the Evolution of a Religious Community$
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Mary Beth Fraser Connolly

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780823254736

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823254736.001.0001

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“Not Bound by Enclosure”

“Not Bound by Enclosure”

The Sisters of Mercy Respond: 1846–1929

(p.46) 2 “Not Bound by Enclosure”
Women of Faith

Mary Beth Fraser Connolly

Fordham University Press

Chapter two examines how the Sisters of Mercy lived their religion and sought to incorporate their founding charism in their works of mercy throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The Sisters of Mercy, as defined by Catherine McAuley, were not constrained by the religious rule of cloister or enclosure, and consequently went out into the world in ways that other women religious, both Catholic and Protestant, could not. As the Mercys spread throughout Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin, performing similar but not identical ministries, they built a network of parish schools, academies, hospitals, homes for women, orphanages, and other ministries that sprung from a common foundress, spirit, and purpose. By the early twentieth century, Mercys from Chicago South, Chicago West, Aurora, Ottawa, Milwaukee, Janesville, Davenport, and Iowa City, faced with changes to religious life directed by the Vatican and conscious of the needs of their local foundations and communities, discussed consolidating the disparate locations into one Province.

Keywords:   Chicago Sisters of Mercy, American Catholic women religious, Ministry, spirituality, community

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