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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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“Change Is Blowing Hard”

“Change Is Blowing Hard”

Renewal of Religious Life in the 1960s and 1970s

(p.129) 5 “Change Is Blowing Hard”
Women of Faith

Mary Beth Fraser Connolly

Fordham University Press

Chapter five examines the renewal process and how this impacted religious government. The call to renewal emanating from the Second Vatican Council became one part of a larger movement to reform religious life. For the Sisters of Mercy of the Chicago Regional Community, renewal meant reconnecting with the founding spirit of Catherine McAuley. It also meant reexamining how sisters lived, worked, and worshiped. One critical aspect of this renewal was religious government. While Sisters of Mercy across the community questioned their ministry, their local community living, and whether they had a voice in leadership, their Superiors shared in this process. This chapter explores the relationship between religious government and those governed by it in the 1960s and 1970s. The times demanded democratic reforms, and change occurred not only through bottom-up reforms, but because the leadership at the top was receptive to a new form of government. The type of government that emerged by the 1980s was radically different from what existed prior to Vatican II. The transition from traditional and highly structured governance to democratic decision-making, however, was a prolonged and rocky journey.

Keywords:   Chicago Sisters of Mercy, American Catholic women religious, Vatican II renewal, Religious government

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