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Dedicated to God: An Oral History of Cloistered Nuns

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  106 ratings  ·  19 reviews
As a subculture, cloistered monastic nuns live hidden from public view by choice. Once a woman joins the cloister and makes final vows, she is almost never seen and her voice is not heard; her story is essentially nonexistent in the historical record and collective, public history.
From interviews conducted over six years, Abbie Reese tells the stories of the Poor Clare Co
Hardcover, 247 pages
Published January 7th 2014 by OUP Us (first published November 13th 2013)
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Jan 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Abbie Reese tells the story of the Poor Clare Collettine nuns of Corpus Christi monastery (in my hometown of Rockford, Illinois) in their own words. Except for my moment of irritation at her unfortunate (and false) reduction of the surrounding area to little more than "a high crime urban area," I thoroughly enjoyed this intimate portrait of the unseen world of the cloister. Reese dispels the notion of the cloistered nun as a quirky recluse and puts in its place a vibrant mosaic of women with dif ...more
University of Chicago Magazine
Abbie Reese, MFA'13

From the author: "As a subculture, cloistered monastic nuns live hidden from public view by choice. Once a woman joins the cloister and makes final vows, she is almost never seen and her voice is not heard; her story is essentially nonexistent in the historical record and collective, public history.

"From interviews conducted over six years, Abbie Reese tells the stories of the Poor Clare Colettine Order, a cloistered contemplative order at the Corpus Christi Monastery in
Andrew Field
Nov 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed reading this book, despite being somewhere on the spectrum between an atheist and an agnostic. I found the lives of these cloistered nuns to be inspiring, not only because of the enormous amount of discipline they freely impose upon their lives, but because they seem to have heeded a genuine calling, a genuine vocation. They are cloistered nuns, which means they cannot leave their 25,000 square-foot gated enclosure. Families are allowed to visit, if I remember correctly, four ti ...more
Aug 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The stories were told in a very interesting fashion. Even if some things were repeated several times over and over again it wasn't boring-that's just how narrative went-and it was interesting to see how each nun said basically the same thing in slightly different words. But sometimes they diverged, and that was even more entertaining, to see how a single community can have a radically different visions on God, and life, and their role in it. Some of these worldviews were pretty shallow, some wer ...more
Despite not being religious myself (but spiritual indeed), I have always been fascinated and deeply intrigued by people / communities who live apart from the world- be it Catholic nuns, Buddhist monks, the Amish, prison inmates serving life sentences, families who move off the grid and live off the land or any other person or community who leaves the mainstream world behind.

I was utterly captivated by the personal stories in this book and the way the nuns shared what their lives had been before
Mary D'Alto
Oct 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read about this book, which is why I wanted to read it. It was wonderful. Not often do we get to learn the "why" of anyone's choice, let alone something as extraordinary as deciding to spend one's life in a Cloister! The book was near to perfect, and only absolutely perfect because it was entirely positive, with no negative points at all with regard to the life. But then again I suppose that was the point; these women have made a firm choice and they stick by it. I also think this is the rare ...more
Grazyna Nawrocka
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The feeling of this book was like moving in to ants nest - exploring microcosm. The lecture is inspirational and uplifting. Although I completely disagree with concept of being married to Jesus Christ, the book helped me to understand the ideology behind Catholic nuns and cloisters. For some reason the book has cathartic and spiritual effect. I enjoyed reading it, but agree that it is not a reading for everybody.
Mar 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
An oral history is the perfect format for this excellent book on cloistered nuns. Only the words of those who live this life could give such a feeling of honesty and intimacy. This book opened up a different world for me.
William Nist
Feb 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: religious
This collection of oral histories of Poor Clare Colletine Nuns from Rockford, IL unfortunately is banal and targeted for an naive popular audience. The issues covered, primarily the "call" and "response" to religious life, are treated in a traditional bromidic fashion, calling for no more sophistication than a Catholic grade school student possess.

Any substantive issue, like say, the years of doubt many religious suffer, the sexuality of the convent, the decision to leave, the struggle of commu
Jan 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Awareness of this book came to me from an unusual direction. An aunt heard of it and contacted me before it was released to ask me to look for it. It seemed like an odd request, but I requested iit at my library and eventually it turned up on my shelf. Although somewhat a departure from my standard reading choices, I set everything aside and spent the last week, yes, it took me a week to read, slowly taking in the lives of each of the nuns who chose to participate in this project.
This book reso
Aug 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Call from God, Life in a monastery and Threats of the cloistered life of nuns of Pure Clare Colettine These excerpts meant the most to me.

According to the treatise Verbi Sponsa: Instruction on the Contemplative Life and on the Enclosure of Nuns, a publication that is given to all Poor Clare postulants when they enter the Corpus Christi Monastery as part of their formation, a cloistered contemplative yearns for “fulfillment in God, in an uninterrupte
Mar 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-ficton
This is an affecting look at the lives and stories of the cloistered Poor Clare nuns at a monastery in Rockford IL. Their stories are engaging and often moving, and should dispel any stereotype of the monastic as someone who just doesn't fit in the secular world: most of these women come from very mainstream (Catholic) American backgrounds, and many had successful careers before entering the cloistered life.

Their accounts of their "conversion" (though I think all were religious to a degree befor
Jan 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Abbie Reese shared the stories of the Poor Clares of Rockford, Illinois. The sisters shared their early lives, their unique calling to a monastic life,and their acceptance of God's call. They shared their daily lives, living behind the grill, and what they have given up. But, despite what they have given up, they believe their lives are most fulfilled. They are truly our prayer warriors and beautiful souls.
Sharon Bo
Aug 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
I like enthnography and oral history, and I think this is an excellent contribution to those areas. I recommend it to anyone who is interested in closed communities, women's lives and life choices and religious life. Reese's photos from inside the cloister add interest to the book. I can hardly wait for the companion movie, "Chosen," which is in early stages of production. (Learn more at the website -- ...more
Maurício Perez
May 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Um livro muito delicado e bonito sobre a vida de Clarisas de clausura em um mosteiro nos EUA. Ajuda leigos, solteiros ou casados, sacerdotes ou virgens a entender a vocação religiosa.

Tratando-se de história oral, a autora recolhe, sem interferir, com o depoimento de diversas monjas. Estas contam sua vida pregressa no mundo, sua visão da fé, sentido da vida, relacionamento com as outras monjas, rotina de oração e trabalho, etc. Muito recomendável.
Cheri Zweep
I'm having a hard time getting through this one . . . .

I had such a difficult time reading this book. I was very interested in the stories and very interested in the entire cloistered lifestyle, but I felt the author fell short in telling the story in a good way.

Does anyone else feel this way?
Dec 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. I have been to their monastery and have a Rosary from there. It was very interesting to hear about their lives. I could see this book opening eyes and hearts to those who might consider joining. I pray that it does.
Jul 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Iure beatae et porro tenetur veritatis. Quo dicta reiciendis. Sit sed autem quas dolor alias animi.
Dec 07, 2014 rated it liked it
3.5 stars: surreal view into this otherworldly world. writing was a bit circular and repetitive but deeply respectful
helen ryan
rated it it was amazing
Nov 26, 2016
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Cari Crook
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Carlynn Teremi
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May 26, 2019
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Apr 12, 2018
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Mar 11, 2014
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May 22, 2017
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Aug 26, 2014
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Karen M
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Apr 22, 2014
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Abbie Reese is an independent scholar and an interdisciplinary artist. In her relationship- and research-based practice, she utilizes oral history and ethnographic methodologies to explore individual and cultural identity, public and private performances, and the liminal state as one transitions social roles. Abbie received a Master of Fine Arts in Visual Arts from the University of Chicago and sh ...more

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