Benedictine women in the United States: An historical study of development and change in houses of Benedictine women of the Federation of Saint Scholastica

Karin C Schwatlo, Fordham University

Abstract

American Benedictines are the inheritors of a long and cherished heritage, pregnant with tradition and history. In 1852 Benedictines from Eichstaett, Germany, answered the call into the American mission country. Because of the dire need for "words" rather than prayer, papal enclosure and the Divine Office had to be abandoned at the demand of local clerics. This in turn resulted in charges from the hierarchy, that these women were no longer "True" Benedictines.^ This dissertation is an historical study that examines the tensions and problematic heritage of the European roots of Benedictine women in America. It explores the role of women in church and society, and highlights how Benedictines, individually and corporately, responded to the challenges of a changing American society.^ This study begins with the arrival of the Benedictines in America, and the need for education of the children of German settlers. This includes the early tensions regarding autonomy and the struggle to maintain their monastic identity in the face of apostolic works.^ The discussion of the first one hundred years of their existence in America highlights the rapid growth of the Benedictine order and the expansion of its schools and other organizations, such as hospitals, into large institutions. At the same time, Benedictines pursued higher education for their students and for themselves. Many completed graduate degrees in order to staff their own colleges. While they proved their abilities as competent leaders and managers, interferences from local clergy provided ongoing trials. An examination of the changes since Vatican II accents the involvement in global social concerns, and leads to global Benedictinism.^ American sisters have come full circle: the once dependent missionary sisters are today able to guide their European counterparts through their exploration of combining an authentic monastic vocation with relevancy in a changing European environment. ^

Subject Area

Religion, General|Theology

Recommended Citation

Karin C Schwatlo, "Benedictine women in the United States: An historical study of development and change in houses of Benedictine women of the Federation of Saint Scholastica" (January 1, 1994). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI9520615.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI9520615

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