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Abstract

In 1845, the leaders of the Sisters of Charity decided that they should withdraw from institutions for boys to stay faithful to the community’s original charism of educating girls. At the time about sixty sisters were responding to an urgent need for orphanages for boys and girls in New York. The boys had nowhere else to go. The sisters could either return to Emmitsburg or remain in New York, forming a new community under the bishop. Past studies of this separation have only considered the perspectives of Emmitsburg’s ecclesiastical superior and the bishop, thus seeing the sisters as caught up in a clash of wills. Letters of four of the New York sisters show that they made their own decision about whether to separate due to differing interpretations of mission. A timeline of this complicated conflict and questions for further study are provided.

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