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The Laywoman ProjectRemaking Catholic Womanhood in the Vatican II Era$
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Mary J. Henold

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781469654492

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469654492.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 29 June 2022

Killing Vocations over Wheaties and Milk

Killing Vocations over Wheaties and Milk

(p.17) Prologue Killing Vocations over Wheaties and Milk
The Laywoman Project

Mary J. Henold

University of North Carolina Press

The turn of the 1960s marked a time of extreme demographic challenges for the American Catholic church. While the number of vocations to religious life was rising, the church itself was experiencing massive growth due to the baby boom of the post-war years. There simply were not enough women religious (nuns) to staff the growing number of Catholic schools required to educate the youth of the church. In response, Catholic periodicals signaled what they called a “vocation crisis” starting as early as 1958. An analysis of the articles produced at the height of the crisis in the first half of the 1960s reveals, not only the church’s fears at this unique moment, but also its perception of Catholic laywomen. Laywomen were most frequently blamed for causing the crisis by holding back their daughters from religious life. They were counseled to sacrifice everything for the church in order to achieve sanctity, and criticized for their failure to do so. The literature of the vocation crisis reveals common assumptions about laywomen’s vocation and its importance in the early 1960s.

Keywords:   Vocation, Nuns, Vocation crisis, Catholic laywomen, Women religious, 1960s, 1950s, Gender roles, Catholic schools

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