Into Silence and Servitude

How American Girls Became Nuns, 1945-1965

Reddit icon
e-mail icon
Twitter icon
Facebook icon
Google icon
LinkedIn icon
Brian Titley
McGill-Queen's Studies in the History of Religion
  • Montreal, Quebec: 
    McGill-Queen's University Press
    , August
     2017.
     304 pages.
     $35.95.
     Hardcover.
    ISBN
    9780773551411.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.

Description

For many American Catholics in the twentieth-century the face of the Church was a woman's face. After the Second World War, as increasing numbers of baby boomers flooded Catholic classrooms, the Church actively recruited tens of thousands of young women as teaching sisters. In Into Silence and Servitude Brian Titley delves into the experiences of young women who entered Catholic religious sisterhoods at this time.

The Church favoured nuns as teachers because their wageless labour made education more affordable in what was the world's largest private school system. Focusing on the Church's recruitment methods Titley examines the idea of a religious vocation, the school settings in which nuns were recruited, and the tactics of persuasion directed at both suitable girls and their parents. The author describes how young women entered religious life and how they negotiated the sequence of convent "formation stages," each with unique challenges respecting decorum, autonomy, personal relations, work, and study. Although expulsions and withdrawals punctuated each formation stage, the number of nuns nationwide continued to grow until it reached a pinnacle in 1965, the same year that Catholic schools achieved their highest enrolment.

Based on extensive archival research, memoirs, oral history, and rare Church publications, Into Silence and Servitude presents a compelling narrative that opens a window on little-known aspects of America’s convent system.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Brian Titley is professor emeritus of education at the University of Lethbridge and the author of several books including Dark Age: The Political Odyssey of Emperor Bokassa.

Add New Comment

Reading Religion welcomes comments from AAR members, and you may leave a comment below by logging in with your AAR Member ID and password. Please read our policy on commenting.

Log in to post comments