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Le Concile Vatican II et le monde des religieux

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Christian Sorrel

Les voies du changement. Tensions et réformes

« The Personal is Political »

How three congregations of women religious in Atlantic Canada responded to the Vatican II call for renewal

Heidi MacDonald

Texte intégral

  • 1 Quoted in Helen Ebaugh, Women in the Vanishing Cloister. Organizational Decline in Catholic Religio (...)
  • 2 Combined, these three congregations served in every diocese of the region of Atlantic Canada. The S (...)
  • 3 I would like to express my sincere thanks to each of the congregations for their generosity in prov (...)

1While Betty Friedan, the mother of second-wave feminism in the United States, named the « emergence of the American nun from the cloister to define and assert her personhood in society » as one of the most significant aspects of the 1960s women’s movement, no similar remark was made about women religious in Canada1. This paper addresses that deficit by considering how the Vatican II renewal process of three Atlantic Canadian congregations, the Sisters of Charity, Halifax (Nova Scotia), the Presentation Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary (St. John’s, Newfoundland) and the Sisters of St. Martha, Charlottetown (Prince Edward Island), reflected similar feminist ideologies2. Like religious everywhere, Atlantic Canadian women religious responded to Perfectae Caritatis (1965) by renewing their mission, governance and work in light of the changing needs of society, according to the process outlined in the Apostolic Letter Ecclesiae Sanctae (1966), which directed that all members of religious congregations be consulted, and that adaptation and renewal be negotiated within general chapters in the late 1960s3. This paper examines how rank and file women religious in these three congregations responded enthusiastically to the invitation for renewal in all areas, and were particularly passionate about practical reforms regarding dress, the Horaire, and authority. The significance of these targets of renewal has the same implication as the concurrent secular feminist movement’s popular slogan: « the personal is political. » In the case of the sisters, the preference for fewer rules and more secular dress may have seemed minor matters but ended up eroding their corporate identity, forms of worship, and level of obedience, which in turn became highly political when blamed for decreases in membership.

  • 4 Memo to the Sisters from Mother Maria Gertrude, 13 Nov 1966, Material in Preparation for the 11th G (...)
  • 5 Chapter Communications and Explorations for renewal, c. 1967, File 1-3-5, SCHA.

2The three congregations under study took the consultation requirements of Perfectae Caritatis and Ecclesiae Sanctae very seriously4, inundating their membership with opinionaires, questionnaires, house forums, regional forums, referenda, and draft chapter enactments. Sisters were asked to study Perfectae Caritatis, Lumen Gentium, Gravissimum Educationis, and Dignitatis Humanae, and participate in workshops on such topics as Group Survival and Change and Management and Human Resources. Full participation was sought repeatedly. For example, the instructions for a 1967 Sisters of Charity questionnaire stated: « Each sister is encouraged to express herself as fully as she wishes. The more spontaneous and complete the answer, the more helpful it will be… our aim is to ascertain the sisters’ uninhibited thinking, the questionnaires need not be signed5. » The Presentation Sisters, who numbered almost 384 sisters in 1967, submitted hundreds of suggestions for renewal, which were subsequently grouped into 72 categories. The 1629 members of the Sisters of Charity submitted over one thousand proposals to their chapter of Renewal in 1968-69, the majority from provincial and regional chapters but also two hundred from individual sisters. The Sisters of St. Martha were small enough (165 members in 1967) to have every proposal go to their chapter of renewal.

  • 6 Helen Ebaugh, Women…, p. 133.

3In many ways, these chapter of renewal discussions mirrored the simultaneous consciousness-raising experiences of second-wave feminists in the North American women’s liberation movements in the late 1960s. In fact, as Helen Ebaugh and others have argued, women religious were « unwitting feminists » long before the 1960s, particularly as professional women and as members of closed, self-governing, women-only organizations6. The renewal encouraged by Vatican II and specifically by Perfectae Caritatis fell on fertile ground with chapters of renewal lasting as long as the equivalent of twelve weeks of daily meetings over two years.

  • 7 Chapter Minutes, 19 July 1967, resolution #3, File 302.1967.5, PBVMA.
  • 8 Minutes of Chapter of Affairs, 1967, 5 August 1967, CSMA.

4At the first invitation for input into chapter of renewal preparations in each congregation, the most common request was for eliminating the requirement of formal permissions for petty requests. These permissions had been implemented in the 18th and 19th centuries to assist sisters in keeping their vows and the monastic rule, but by the 1960s they were considered unnecessarily restrictive. Sisters most often complained about permissions related to personal care and personal relationships, including access to food (especially snacks) and toiletries, or visiting relatives and sending letters. For example, in their respons to the request for reform, the Presentation Sisters experimented with having personal articles such as soap, toothpaste, deodorant, and tissues in a place convenient for postulants to access, without first obtaining permission7. A similar proposal passed in the Sisters of St. Martha’s Chapter of Renewal requested that said household remedies such as cough medicine, laxatives, and aspirin « be placed at the disposal of the sisters8 ».

  • 9 Chapter Minutes, 14 July 67, File 302.1967.5, PBVMA.
  • 10 Questionnaire [results], p. 10, Superior Gen’s Report (Chapter 1967), File 302.1967.10, PBVMA.

5While the Presentation Sisters agreed on common cupboards for toiletries, they debated unrestricted kitchen access more intensely. A majority of sisters argued that they should be able to have a snack when hungry, similar to the right to rest when tired, or bathe as necessary. With kitchen accessibility, however, sisters responsible for food services argued that it was impossible to plan meals when food went missing. Those who claimed the right to snacks said the food services sisters were being « autocratic9 ». The debate about access to goods touched not only on such basic rights such as the right to sustenance, but also questioned how formal a convent should be. As one sister argued, « the convent should be like a home where members of a family do not have to ask [permission] to visit necessary rooms, such as laundry or sewing rooms ». In contrast, more traditional sisters were concerned that casual behavior could « [open] doors to more scandals, secularism, sexuality, alcoholism, immoral dress, and general laxity10 ».

  • 11 Minutes of Chapter of 1967 (proposal B80), 22 July 67, CSMA.
  • 12 Poverty #4, Folder 302.1967.8, PBVMA.
  • 13 Experiments – Central Vice-Province [1966], Material Chapter Preparation, Provinces, File 1-3-3, SC (...)
  • 14 Personal Allowances, G2-69-31, File 1-3-55 (6), SCHA.
  • 15 Financial Report to the Second Session of Chapter of Renewal, July 1969, File 1-3-38, SCHA.

6Another way many members of the three congregations hoped to avoid permissions was by requesting small monetary allowances for which they did not have to account to the very penny. A proposal in the Sisters of St. Martha Chapter of 1967 requested that « sisters be given $5 on their feast day to spend as they wish11 ». A similar proposal at the Presentation Sisters’ Chapter stated: « Sisters should be given at least $10 to spend at summer school for which they should not have to account12. » The Sisters of Charity moved farther and faster with personal allowances. Some provinces experimented with a $15 annual entertainment budget for sisters in 1966, and then, through a broader study of the meaning of their vows in the modern world, the congregation carried out « controlled experimentation in the personal handling of money » in 196613. Two years later, the Sisters of Charity introduced monthly allowances for all sisters, and in 1971, these allowances rose to between $300 and $360 annually, to be used for « postage; telephone; entertainment; personal travel; clothing and personal effects; stationary; gifts; religious conferences; religious articles; vacations14 ». These were all things the congregation would have formerly provided, but the difference was that sisters could now make more decisions about what they bought, a requirement they tied to the Vatican II concept of « the dignity of the human person15 ». As in secular society, many sisters in the convent associated access to money with autonomy and maturity.

  • 16 [Recommendations from unknown group but comment that they were all about the same age], p. 68, Vows (...)
  • 17 Individual handwritten responses to Questionnaire to Novices and Postulants, 18 June 67, Folder 302 (...)

7The rationale behind arguments for less hierarchy and fewer permissions was that sisters should not be treated as infants. One sister argued, « our obedience should be an adult obedience. Too many superiors treat sisters, even older sisters, like irresponsible children, incapable of making simple judgments and decisions16». Another Atlantic Canadian sister affirmed the need for valuing the judgment of individual sisters, reporting that the hardest part of her postulancy was having significant responsibility in her teaching role but not being trusted as sister. In her words: « For the majority time of the day, I was expected to help form the minds of over 30 children and then suddenly at 4: 30pm [when I returned to the convent], it seemed to me that I could not make even a minor decision17. »

8Related to reforming permissions were dozens of requests in each congregation under study for a loosening of the Horaire or daily common schedule. The most eagerly-requested reforms were directed at aspects of the Horaire that affected sisters at the most personal or private level, including amount of sleep, frequency of bathing, and form of recreation. Related complaints were brought forward concerning access to the telephone, restrictions on correspondence, and chaperoned visits to doctors’ offices. Finally, all congregations received requests to reduce extraneous practices of subservience and the use of bells to signal the time of rising, retiring, meals, and chapel. All told, these requests for renewal called for a shift from a common schedule to a schedule rooted in more personal preference and self-determination.

  • 18 Results of 1966 Questionnaires, File 301.1967.17, PBVMA.
  • 19 [Recommendations from unknown group but comment that they were all about the same age – it looks at (...)
  • 20 Community Life Report, SCH Provincial Forum, File 1-3-18 to 1-3-24, SCHA. My italics.
  • 21 Newsletter #5, Apr 6, 1968, File 1-3-26, SCHA.
  • 22 Overall, those members of the Sisters of Charity who wanted reform were effective in using Vatican (...)
  • 23 [Recommendations from unknown group], Folder 302.1967.8, PBVMA.

9Criticism of the Horaire stemmed from a desire for more individual freedoms, which was strongest among younger sisters – those who came of age in the 1960s – whereas older sisters seemed not to trust the younger ones to make sensible decisions. Among the Presentation Sisters, for example, few over the age of 46 approved of eliminating a set time for lights out because « they feared that the tendency would be to work or read too long, thus depriving oneself of the energy needed the next morning to face the day’s work18 ». The daily mandatory hour of group recreation received more widespread criticism. As one Presentation Sister stated, « there is a desperate need in many of our communities for real recreation – a time of fun and relaxation, instead of the purgative period of tension and boredom which now exists19 ». A Sisters of Charity pre-Chapter provincial forum on community life concluded that « any stipulation of time, manner, or place of recreation was thought to be unnecessary20 », and soon afterward, Chapter passed a broader motion that « general, uniform regulations regarding the horarium, recreation and living conditions be reduced to a minimum21 ». Each congregation also passed community life motions allowing sisters to regulate their own use of radio, television, and correspondence, although the smoothness of the enactment varied according to congregation. The Sisters of Charity tended to make such changes the most quickly; they had a reputation as one of the most progressive congregations, which was sometimes tied to the large number of Americans in the congregation22. The Presentation Sisters exhibited the most cautious behavior. For example, one sister challenged the practice of sisters stamping and mailing their own letters: « I think Superiors should stamp letters. Abuses could easily arise if stamps are left out for general use23. »

  • 24 For example, the CSM unanimously passed an ending of these rituals at their Chapter of Renewal. Cha (...)
  • 25 Report of the Customs Committee to the Chapter of Affairs, Reconvened 3 July 1968, Minutes of Gener (...)

10Among the customs considered by many to be unnecessary parts of the Horaire, were kissing the floor on rising and retiring, and kneeling when asking permission; both were phased out fairly quickly as part of a broader theme of reducing hierarchy where necessary24. The frequency of bells was also targeted and dealt with swiftly; every congregation reduced bells to a minimum, which was usually defined as for meals and some chapel services. The Sisters of St. Martha voted ninety per cent in favour of reducing bells, and one particularly frustrated Sister of St. Martha wrote in a questionnaire response that « bells should not be rung at all except in the case of fire25 ».

  • 26 General Chapter Report, 1957, CSMA.
  • 27 Elizabeth Smyth, « Professionalism among the Professed: the Case of Roman Catholic Women Religious  (...)

11In the same vein of questioning the necessity of uniformity, all three congregations engaged in vigorous debate over retaining the habit and veil. In fact, the shift toward less cumbersome habits began in all three congregations in the late 1950s. For example, in 1957, the Sisters of St. Martha voted to discontinue requiring summer cloaks and large beads while travelling, and to permit wristwatches26. These were small changes on the one hand, but significant for placing more emphasis on sisters’ comfort, as well as ease with which they could accomplish their many work and prayer-related duties of their dual professions – usually as teachers or nurses – and vowed religious27.

  • 28 Perfectae Caritatis 17.
  • 29 General Chapter Minutes, 1963, CSMA.
  • 30 Report on Renewal, July 1973, Minutes of Elections and Chapter of Affairs Binder, CSMA.
  • 31 PBVM Memo to Sisters, 23 March 67, folder 302.1967. 14 re Habit.
  • 32 Memo from General Chapter to Sisters, nd, File 302. 1968.8, PBVMA.
  • 33 Correspondence re Pre Chapter Preparations, File 1-3-1; Box 7 files 1-3-1 to 1-3-9, SCHA.

12When Perfectae Caritatis called in 1965 for the religious habit to be « suited to the circumstances of time and place and to the needs of the ministry involved28 », many sisters in each of the three congregations sought to update their outmoded habits and headdresses beyond the intentions of the decree. The 1963 Chapter of the Sisters of St. Martha considered over a dozen proposals connected to dress and grooming with the thrust of reforms emphasizing individual choice. The subsequent phasing out of the habit was swift, and most sisters began wearing a business-suit style habit and v-shape veil even before their Chapter of Renewal in 196729, and then made the veil optional in 197330. In 1967, the Presentation Sisters considered two habit options designed by a local company, both with a considerably shorter skirt than their previous habit, and three headdress options31. The following year, Chapter passed a proposal clarifying that habit length could vary between a minimum of six inches and a maximum of ten inches from the floor, measured without shoes32. After deciding on a couple of basic skirt and blazer designs for their modified habit – made with recycled material from old habits –, the Sisters of Charity invited one sister from every house to try the new habit and report on their experience. In addition, all sisters with ear trouble were welcomed to wear the modified cap and veil, addressing a long-held and pervasive complaint in the congregation about the uncomfortable fit of the veil33.

  • 34 Proposals on Dress, 28 July 1967 [Minutes], CSMA.
  • 35 Rosemarie Sampson, interview by the author, Halifax 15 June 2014.

13In each congregation there was enthusiastic (although not uncontested) support for relinquishing the traditional habit. In opinionaires, usually the earliest opportunity for comment, a significant proportion of sisters in each congregation argued that the traditional habit interfered with their apostolate and created a barrier with secular people. A Sister of St. Martha explained that reforming the traditional habit was necessary to « indicate our acceptance of the people with whom we work, especially the youth. Contemporary dress would seem to be a sign to them that we are not withdrawing from them, that we belong to the world of the present and to the people of the present34 ». One Sister of Charity reported in an interview that when she entered her classroom wearing a modified habit for the first time, her grade five students clapped spontaneously, illustrating that even these children knew how extraneous the traditional habit was35.

  • 36 Questionnaire, 1966, File 301.1967.17, PBVMA.
  • 37 Chapter of 1973, Minutes, 28 December 1973, PBVMA.
  • 38 Directional statement on the habit, 15 August 79, File 302.1979.6, PBVMA.

14Compared to modifying the habit, the debate over the veil was more divisive. Each of the three congregations under study had heated arguments, the junior sisters regularly in conflict with the senior sisters who tended to prefer maintaining the veil. The debate was most intense and dragged on longest among the Presentation Sisters. In 1966, one Presentation Sister said sharply, « those who wish to wear casual clothes should not remain in the convent36 ». Then, their Chapter of 1973 included a discussion on the veil « so divided in opinion as to cause some concern in some Chapter members as to whether it would be possible to settle the issue without causing pain to many members of our congregation37 ». Acknowledging that the religious dress had « deep symbolic value » for some sisters and little « symbolic value » for others, as well as the need to « respect the freedom of each Sister and to preserve unity in diversity », the Presentation Sisters’ congregational leadership put forward an exceptional directive at their 1979 Chapter: « 1. That the habit and veil be retained and 2. That the wearing of the habit and veil be left to the discretion of individual sisters38. » The implementation of this unusual directive symbolizes the degree of ideological difference between pro and anti-veil sisters.

15In conclusion, the second-wave feminist slogan, « the personal is political » was just as relevant inside as outside these 1960s Atlantic Canadian convents. In the same manner that secular second-wave feminists reconsidered their roles as women, wives, and mothers, women religious also questioned their roles, especially regarding authority, conformity, and autonomy. Renewal facilitated through Perfectae Caritatis and other Vatican II documents unleashed among women religious a torrent of criticisms about convent governance, congregational apostolates, and personal and congregational identities. The most urgent requests for reform, however, related to permissions, the Horaire, and clothing, three things that might be considered personal when compared to general spirit of Vatican II and the Church in the modern world. As with feminism outside the convent, however, these personal issues became political. Reforming the personal had broad implications, including the erosion of congregational identity and hierarchy. Demands for individual rights destabilized convent structures. Ultimately, reforms related to these issues – including the abandonment of the habit – were blamed, rightly or wrongly, for the decline in membership in religious congregations.

  • 39 Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self. The Making of the Modern Identity, Cambridge, Harvard Universi (...)
  • 40 Provincial Forum, 10 December, « Community Life Report (province not given) », File 1-3- 18 to 1-3- (...)
  • 41 Material from Community Life Committee Study and Report on Community Life Questionnaire from Genera (...)

16By rejecting the common uniform and schedule, women religious in the Vatican II era rejected the previously sacrosanct image of women religious as interchangeable, obedient, personality-less extensions of the Church. According to Charles Taylor in Sources of the Self, « we often declare our identity as defined by only one [identity], because this is what is salient in our lives… But in fact our identity is deeper and more many-sided than any of our possible articulations of it39 ». It is as if women religious in the 1960s rejected their « one » identity as members of congregations in favour of the « deeper… many-sided » identities, to which they were entitled as individual Christian women. As a house forum among some Sisters of Charity summarized, « insistence on exact uniformity with regard to items of dress was deemed unworthy of mature women40 », or as another group of Sisters of Charity concluded: « External uniformity has been stressed to the detriment of community spirit41. »

  • 42 Olga Mckenna, Charity Alive. Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul, Halifax, 1950- 1980, Bost (...)
  • 43 These tighter restrictions on women religious relate to hypervigilance in controlling sisters’ sexu (...)

17While this paper focusses on women religious’ desire to reduce the uniformity and authority in their lives in the immediate Vatican II era, the changes they sought, in such areas as dress or handling money, had far broader implications. Most notably, the sisters’ spirituality and theology were affected. As sisters’ lives became less « restricted by time-worn modes and sterile uniformity42 », new forms of worship were integrated, including private prayer and Christian meditation. Chapter records on which this paper is based did not emphasize the sisters’ development of new forms of worship, but related requests, such as for the reduction in bells or ending the kissing of the floor upon rising and retiring opened the door to new forms of worship that would be developed in subsequent decades. I would posit that the tighter restrictions on women compared to male religious – including the requirement not to leave the convent without a companion – meant that male religious had more freedom and autonomy before Vatican II and were thus less likely to focus on such issues as permissions and more likely to focus on spirituality, liturgy, and theology in their chapters of renewal43.

  • 44 Anjum Alvi, « Concealment and Revealment: The Muslim Veil in Context », Current Anthropology, vol 5 (...)
  • 45 Joan Chittister, Fire in these Ashes. A Spirituality of Contemporary Religious Life, Wisconsin, She (...)

18In the long chapters of renewal in the three congregations under study, permissions, the Horaire, and the habit contained different meaning for different sisters. It cannot be concluded that any of these were rejected for any one reason. For example, while the hijab has been criticized today for, in Anjum Alvi’s words, « [violating] women’s rights and individual freedom and its wearer as engaged in fundamentalism and radical thinking44 », the hijab has multiple meanings that must be considered in context. For women religious who wanted either to retain or forgo the veil in the post Vatican II era, the veil could similarly hold different meanings for them and could, like the hijab, be worn for God in a practice beyond what the wearer would deem submissive. Whatever the case, women religious understood the markedness of the habit, and they reacted to its implications in a variety of ways, from considering it an essential observation of their vow of obedience, to considering it an impediment to their call to serve the poor. Without detracting from multiple possible meanings of permissions, the Horaire, and the habit for individual sisters, we can still identify that these targets for change held inevitable connections to what we define as personal, including such basic embodied experiences as eating, bathing, and dressing. Debating the value of permissions, the Horaire, and the habit, took sisters out of the realm of the personal and into the political sphere, with major implications for how individual sisters, congregations, and the whole Church functioned. Joan Chittister, osb, noted of post-Vatican II renewal in women’s congregations that « one loose brick toppled the entire system45 ». One could argue that the initial « loose brick » may have been the sisters’ desire to change the more personal aspects of their lives and assert their personhood, which was consistent with both second wave feminism and the aggiornamento of the Second Vatican Council.

Notes

1 Quoted in Helen Ebaugh, Women in the Vanishing Cloister. Organizational Decline in Catholic Religious Orders in the United States, New Jersey, Rutgers University Press, 1993, p. 133.

2 Combined, these three congregations served in every diocese of the region of Atlantic Canada. The Sisters of Charity were founded as an independent diocesan congregation in 1856 to educate poor Irish children; the congregation grew and spread all over North America, to become the largest English-speaking congregation in Canada. The Presentation Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary came to Newfoundland in 1833 to educate girls; they were leaders in provincial education and the arts into the 1990s. The Sisters of St. Martha were founded in 1916 to serve the diocese of Charlottetown, primarily in schools, hospitals, and an orphanage; after Vatican II their work expanded into parishes, social institutions, and many individual social and healthcare ministries.

3 I would like to express my sincere thanks to each of the congregations for their generosity in providing access to their chapter of renewal material. Primary sources are drawn from five kinds of documentation: opinionaires, questionnaires, study group reports, chapter proposals, and chapter of renewal documents, such as minutes and results of votes.

4 Memo to the Sisters from Mother Maria Gertrude, 13 Nov 1966, Material in Preparation for the 11th General Chapter, File 1-3-4 Sisters of Charity, Halifax, Archives [SCHA]. Each sister received an « Explorations for Renewal » package, consisting of 10 pages of worksheets on potential agenda items for the Chapter, lead questions, and a space for « Your suggestions ». Five salient topics from the initial opinionaire became the pillars for discussion and research: Spiritual Life; Government and Organization; Community Life; Apostolic Works; and Formation, all topics encouraged by Perfectae Caritatis. See also Superior General’s Report, Chapter 1967, p. 10, File 302.1967.10, Presentation Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary Archives [PBVMA], and « Minutes of Chapter of Affairs, 1967 », 16 July 1967, Congregation of St. Martha Archives [CSMA].

5 Chapter Communications and Explorations for renewal, c. 1967, File 1-3-5, SCHA.

6 Helen Ebaugh, Women…, p. 133.

7 Chapter Minutes, 19 July 1967, resolution #3, File 302.1967.5, PBVMA.

8 Minutes of Chapter of Affairs, 1967, 5 August 1967, CSMA.

9 Chapter Minutes, 14 July 67, File 302.1967.5, PBVMA.

10 Questionnaire [results], p. 10, Superior Gen’s Report (Chapter 1967), File 302.1967.10, PBVMA.

11 Minutes of Chapter of 1967 (proposal B80), 22 July 67, CSMA.

12 Poverty #4, Folder 302.1967.8, PBVMA.

13 Experiments – Central Vice-Province [1966], Material Chapter Preparation, Provinces, File 1-3-3, SCHA, and Poverty, Pre-Chapter Material Halifax Province, [1966], File 1-3-27, SCHA.

14 Personal Allowances, G2-69-31, File 1-3-55 (6), SCHA.

15 Financial Report to the Second Session of Chapter of Renewal, July 1969, File 1-3-38, SCHA.

16 [Recommendations from unknown group but comment that they were all about the same age], p. 68, Vows 2, Folder 302.1967.8, PBVMA.

17 Individual handwritten responses to Questionnaire to Novices and Postulants, 18 June 67, Folder 302.1967.18, PBVMA.

18 Results of 1966 Questionnaires, File 301.1967.17, PBVMA.

19 [Recommendations from unknown group but comment that they were all about the same age – it looks at the constitutions line by line], Folder 302.1967.8, PBVMA.

20 Community Life Report, SCH Provincial Forum, File 1-3-18 to 1-3-24, SCHA. My italics.

21 Newsletter #5, Apr 6, 1968, File 1-3-26, SCHA.

22 Overall, those members of the Sisters of Charity who wanted reform were effective in using Vatican II language, such as subsidiary, collegiality, and self-determination in their proposal rationales.

23 [Recommendations from unknown group], Folder 302.1967.8, PBVMA.

24 For example, the CSM unanimously passed an ending of these rituals at their Chapter of Renewal. Chapter of Renewal Minutes, 18 July 1967, CSMA.

25 Report of the Customs Committee to the Chapter of Affairs, Reconvened 3 July 1968, Minutes of General Chapter, 11 July 1968, CSMA.

26 General Chapter Report, 1957, CSMA.

27 Elizabeth Smyth, « Professionalism among the Professed: the Case of Roman Catholic Women Religious », in Elizabeth Smyth and al. (eds.), Challenging Professions. Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on Women’s Professional Work, Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1999, p. 238.

28 Perfectae Caritatis 17.

29 General Chapter Minutes, 1963, CSMA.

30 Report on Renewal, July 1973, Minutes of Elections and Chapter of Affairs Binder, CSMA.

31 PBVM Memo to Sisters, 23 March 67, folder 302.1967. 14 re Habit.

32 Memo from General Chapter to Sisters, nd, File 302. 1968.8, PBVMA.

33 Correspondence re Pre Chapter Preparations, File 1-3-1; Box 7 files 1-3-1 to 1-3-9, SCHA.

34 Proposals on Dress, 28 July 1967 [Minutes], CSMA.

35 Rosemarie Sampson, interview by the author, Halifax 15 June 2014.

36 Questionnaire, 1966, File 301.1967.17, PBVMA.

37 Chapter of 1973, Minutes, 28 December 1973, PBVMA.

38 Directional statement on the habit, 15 August 79, File 302.1979.6, PBVMA.

39 Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self. The Making of the Modern Identity, Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1989, p. 29.

40 Provincial Forum, 10 December, « Community Life Report (province not given) », File 1-3- 18 to 1-3-24 and File 1-3-18 [Material from Provincial Forums], SCHA.

41 Material from Community Life Committee Study and Report on Community Life Questionnaire from Generalate, n.d., File 1-3-8, SCHA.

42 Olga Mckenna, Charity Alive. Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul, Halifax, 1950- 1980, Boston, University Press of America, 1998.

43 These tighter restrictions on women religious relate to hypervigilance in controlling sisters’ sexuality, protecting them from male predators and preserving the whole congregation’s reputation.

44 Anjum Alvi, « Concealment and Revealment: The Muslim Veil in Context », Current Anthropology, vol 54/2, 2013, p. 177.

45 Joan Chittister, Fire in these Ashes. A Spirituality of Contemporary Religious Life, Wisconsin, Sheed and Ward, 1995.

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