Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name




Degree Program

History, MA

Committee Chair

K'Meyer, Tracy

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Fosl, Cate

Committee Member

Fosl, Cate

Committee Member

Keeley, Theresa

Author's Keywords

Sisters; Vatican II; renewal; theology; Catholic; nuns


This thesis explores the experiences of women who were members of the Sisters of Loretto, an American congregation of women religious, in the years around the Second Vatican Council (1962 – 65). It argues that the ideas of nouvelle théologie – a movement among progressive European Catholic scholars aimed at reconnecting faith with lived experience – had a profound impact on how the Sisters of Loretto interpreted the Council’s directives. The movement’s core ideas: ressourcement, a return to original sources of Christian inspiration; an overlapping relationship between natural and supernatural; and the importance of Church engagement with modern social issues, reshaped the Sisters’ understanding of themselves and their role as women religious. As a result of their engagement with nouvelle théologie, encountered through their efforts to improve members’ educational opportunities, the Sisters re-oriented their collective work and made other far-reaching changes to their traditional way of life in the immediate post-Conciliar period.