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Picture of The Impact of Vatican II on Women Religious

The Impact of Vatican II on Women Religious

Case Study of the Union of Irish Presentation Sisters

Author(s): Louise O’Reilly

Book Description

This book opens up a new area of research in the history of the institution of the Irish Presentation Sisters and the impact of Vatican II, 1962–1965 on women religious life in Ireland. The challenges offered by the Council were taken on by the Presentation Congregation and resulted in a trans-national structure known today as the ‘Union of Presentation Sisters’.

In the latter half of the twentieth century, Vatican II called for the need for ‘adaptation’ and ‘renewal’ of religious life. This involved not just changes within the structures of religious life, but also meant that, psychologically, religious needed to change how and what they thought religious life in the twentieth century should be. The traditions of centuries had to be examined in the context of the ‘modern’ twentieth-century world and had to adapt to this change.

However, the scope of the work is wide-ranging as it also examines issues that surrounded the transformation experienced by the Presentation Sisters. These included relations with the Church at both diocesan level and international level. In their efforts to implement change, they were often hampered by the local Bishops in Ireland but were supported by the Church in Rome.

This book explores the whole area of women religious life in Ireland in the post-Vatican II period and examines the implications of these changes in relation to women religious and the Church.


ISBN-13: 978-1-4438-4840-4
ISBN-10: 1-4438-4840-9
Date of Publication: 01/07/2013
Pages / Size: 235 / A5
Price: £44.99


Dr Louise O’Reilly received her PhD in History in 2009 from the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, with a thesis titled “The history of the Irish Presentation Sisters in the twentieth century, from autonomy to Union”, on which this book is based.

As the first laywoman to carry out this type of study on the Presentation congregation, she conducted extensive research in archives throughout Ireland, England and Rome.

She is currently working as archivist and researcher for religious congregations in Ireland. Upcoming publications include a chapter in a book based on Education, Vocation and Care: Histories and Archives of Women Religious. In addition, she is currently researching and writing a history of Dom Eugene Boylan, OCSO.