To Do and to Endure
The Life of Catherine Donnelly, Sister of Service
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"In her portrayal of the life of Sister Catherine Donnelly, founder of the Sisters of Service, author Jeanne Beck has succeeded in weaving a tapestry rich in texture, broad in scope and deeply revealing of the character of a memorable Canadian woman."-Brian F. Hogan, C.S.B.
When teacher Catherine Donnelly first arrived in Western Canada from Ontario in 1918, she discovered two things: first, the need for a Catholic presence in the rural public schools of the west, and second, her own calling to be a religious.
Catherine saw that the west was growing rapidly, and that there was a lack of religious guidance for the people of the region, particularly the immigrants coming from other countries. She looked to existing Catholic orders as a means of reaching these people, but found that none of the orders were willing to accept Catherine’s radical ideas, such as her refusal to wear the traditional nun’s habit, and her strong belief in the individuality of members of orders. Catherine founded the Sisters of Service in 1922, and through this new order was able to make an impact on the lives of townspeople and students in prairie schools of the west.
In this biography, Jeanne Beck reconstructs the extraordinary life of Sister Catherine Donnelly. The well-researched account is at once informative and inspiring a fitting tribute to the woman who believed "the spiritual life and the intellectual life have the same root deep in the unity of the intelligence."
- Dundurn, June 1997
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