ABOUT THIS BOOK
In the 1960s, a number of Catholic women religious in the United States abandoned traditional apostolic works to experiment with new and often unprecedented forms of service among non-Catholics. Amy Koehlinger explores the phenomenon of the "new nun" through close examination of one of its most visible forms--the experience of white sisters working in African-American communities. In a complex network of programs and activities Koehlinger describes as the "racial apostolate," sisters taught at African-American colleges in the South, held racial sensitivity sessions in integrating neighborhoods, and created programs for children of color in public housing projects.
Engaging with issues of race and justice allowed the sisters to see themselves, their vocation, and the Church in dramatically different terms. In this book, Koehlinger captures the confusion and frustration, as well as the exuberance and delight, they experienced in their new Christian mission. Their increasing autonomy and frequent critiques of institutional misogyny shaped reforms within their institute and sharpened a post-Vatican II crisis of authority.
From the Selma march to Chicago's Cabrini Green housing project, Amy Koehlinger illuminates the transformative nature of the nexus of race, religion, and gender in American society.
A beautifully written book on a neglected subject: Catholics nuns in the United States. Koehlinger's study will powerfully assist us in understanding the experience of race and reform among women religious--and its meaning for Catholicism--during the cauldron of the 1960s."
-- John T. McGreevy, author of Catholicism and American Freedom
An original and engaging study of Catholic sisters' anti-racist work in the 1960s. Koehlinger is superb in describing the forces promoting the racial apostolate and in taking the reader close to the thoughts, emotions, and daily activities of the sisters.
-- Susan M. Hartmann, Ohio State University
The New Nuns, a beautifully written, scholarly but accessible work of archival research and oral history, provides an insightful analysis of the racial apostolate in the early 1960s. Amy L. Koehlinger, an acute and empathic historian, explores the unique time "when developments in the Catholic Church, in American race relations and in the federal government converged to dramatically change the political, theological and economic contexts in which Catholic women religious pursued the apostolic component of religious life"...This is an important book that clarifies a complex movement and justly honors the women who, at considerable cost to their own comfort, expanded traditional understandings of charity and "learned the power of imagination and hope."
-- Rachelle Linner Catholic Online
This is a compelling, elegantly written history, carefully contextualized, and deeply grounded in archival research and in-depth interviews.
-- D. Campbell Choice
A beautifully written, scholarly but accessible work of archival research and oral history, provides an insightful analysis of the racial apostolate in the early 1960s.
-- Rachelle Linner Catholic News Service
This book will be an important asset for both scholars and the church as they come to terms with the legacy of the period. But most importantly, Koehlinger’s New Nuns is [a]significant work that tackles the complex world sisters inhabited in the turbulent decades following World War II without ever losing sight of the real women under the habits.
-- Gregory Hite American Catholic Studies
This book definitely contributes to a better understanding of the complex changes that came about in the lives of women religious in the 1960s and 1970s. [Koehlinger’s] study takes a novel approach in bringing issues of race and gender to bear on religious life. [Her] well-written study will be useful in undergraduate and graduate classrooms, and should be on the shelves of college, university, and public libraries.
-- Ann M. Harrington American Catholic Studies
In this innovative study, Amy Koehlinger combines the methodologies of history and anthropology to examine how “in just a few short years sisters had transformed themselves from virtual inmates of their own religious institutions into public activists agitating for the liberation of others”...Koehlinger poignantly chronicles the frustrations, tensions, and triumphs the new nuns experienced as they negotiated tortuous paths between their own moral imperatives toward racial justice and the recalcitrance and opposition of racist laity, clergy, and even other sisters.
-- Diane Batts Morrow Catholic Historical Review