From Convent to Community in Appalachia
Founded in 1941, The Glenmary Sisters embraced a calling to serve rural Appalachian communities where few Catholics resided. The sisters, many of them seeking alternatives to the choices available to most women during this time, zealously pursued their duties but soon became frustrated with the rules and restrictions of the Church. Outmoded doctrine—even styles of dress—made it difficult for them to interact with the very people they hoped to help. In 1967, after many unsuccessful attempts to persuade the Church to ease its requirements, some seventy Sisters left the security of convent life. Over forty of these women formed a secular service group, FOCIS (Federation of Communities in Service). Mountain Sisters is their story.
About the Authors
Monica Appleby, who joined the Glenmary Sisters in 1955, was the first president of FOCIS and is currently the director of the New Enterprises Fund.
"An important examination of Appalachian advocates and an immensely enjoyable read as well. Mountain Sisters provides scholars with a treasure trove of firsthand information and the general public with yet another example of how individuals can make a difference in the world."—Register of the Kentucky Historical Society
"A moving testimony to the determination of Catholic women to implement the reforms of Vatican II in a predominantly Protestant environment. . . . A must for students of twentieth-century American social history and historians of Appalachian religious life."—Religious Studies Review
"Any readers interested in the utopian visions and dystopian realities of communal life will appreciate this documented history of a group whose spiritually-motivated social work began with post-World War II and pre-Vatican II optimism."—Utopian Studies
"A dramatic and inspiritory story."—Appalachian Heritage
"An engaging internal story about a group's vision of ministry during a time when the paradigm of authority and obedience for both church and society was being transformed."—Catholic Historical Reviewng
"An American story of challenging authority, re-inventing community, and adapting and changing within the context of the times. Mountain Sisters conveys a story worth telling and reading, as it says much about the nexus between religion and gender in late-twentieth-century America."—North Carolina Historical Review
"A magnificent memoir."—Journal of Appalachian Studies
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