Elizabeth Hayes Alvarez: Catholics and Protestants in Philadelphia: From Conflict to Collaboration

As I walk around Philadelphia this week, I marvel at the signs, merchandise, and promotions welcoming Pope Francis. It’s hard to believe that just over a century and a half ago, Catholics were the target of violence in this city. Continue Reading Elizabeth Hayes Alvarez: Catholics and Protestants in Philadelphia: From Conflict to Collaboration

Anne M. Butler: Nuns and the Road to Academic Recognition

In nineteenth-century America, Catholic sisters, despite disapproval, increasingly pursued opportunities for higher education. They did so to satisfy their personal intellectual interests and to meet new requirements for certification by government agencies. Continue Reading Anne M. Butler: Nuns and the Road to Academic Recognition

Anne M. Butler: Sisterhoods and Habits

Most sisters do not wear the once ubiquitous garb any more; many bishops yearn to see the gender-weighted tradition reinstated; nostalgic lay people reminisce about the habit along with such Catholic signposts as fish on Friday or parish bingo. It is time to drop the overdone fascination with the antiquated clothing of an earlier era—the long black veils, starched bonnets, and sweeping serge skirts—that supposedly measured the holiness of cloistered women, or at least made nuns easy to identify. Continue Reading Anne M. Butler: Sisterhoods and Habits