How a group of California nuns challenged the Catholic Church

Religion News Service | 10/14/1967 | Diane Winston
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Immaculate Heart College Art Department c. 1955.

Photograph by Fred Swartz. Image courtesy of the Corita Art Center, Immaculate Heart Community, Los Angeles.

Conversation - California - Epicenter - Experimentation - Gurus

(The Conversation) — California in the 1960s was the epicenter for spiritual experimentation. Indian gurus and New Age prophets, Jesus freaks and Scientologists all found followings in the Golden State.

But among those looking for personal and social transformation, the unlikeliest seekers may have been a small community of Roman Catholic religious: the Immaculate Heart Sisters.

Theirs - Research - Order - Saga - Showdown

Theirs was, as I discovered in my research on the order, a compelling spiritual saga, culminating in a showdown with the Catholic hierarchy. The story of that conflict spotlights the impact of the California dream on a Church in transition.

Who were the Immaculate Heart Sisters?

Daughters - Immaculate - Heart - Mary - Spain

The Daughters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary was founded in Spain in 1848. Twenty-three years later, at the invitation of the bishop of California, 10 sisters came to the United States.

Initially, the nuns worked with the poor, but pivoted later to education. In 1886 they began teaching in Los Angeles. Over the next several decades, they staffed Catholic schools, started a convent, and founded a high school and a college. The college, though, closed in 1981 due to financial problems. Among the high school’s most famous graduates is Meghan Markle, the fiancee of Prince Harry.

Order - Spain - Women - California - Institute

In 1924, the order separated from Spain. The women renamed themselves the California Institute of the Sisters of the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The “new” order flourished: By the 1960s, it had 600 members, most of whom were teachers. And by 1967 almost 200 sisters worked in Los Angeles’ Catholic schools. More served in their own order’s educational institutions.

Mother - Superiors - Order - College - Perspectives

Led by broad-minded mother superiors, their order and their college were intellectually rigorous and open to diverse perspectives. They welcomed female speakers such...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Religion News Service
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