SISTER GENEVIEVE: A Courageous Woman's Triumph in Northern Ireland

John Rae, Author . Warner $24.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-446-52824-5

Born in 1923 near Dublin, Mary O'Farrell attended convent school but never liked nuns because of what she thought was their secretive life. At the age of 18, however, O'Farrell entered a religious community, becoming a Daughter of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul. As Rae points out in this workmanlike hagiography, women who entered this order did not become cloistered nuns but religious workers in the larger world. From the beginning of her vocation, Sister Genevieve engaged the world around her with an ardent desire to improve it. In 1956, she was appointed headmistress of St. Louise's Catholic School for Girls in embattled West Belfast. The school became a haven for its pupils during the Troubles. Sister Genevieve believed that education could provide her students access to a better life than the one they experienced daily, and she encouraged girls to continue school past the traditional graduation age of 15 and to seek work in civil service rather than in the mills, where life expectancy was low. Sister Genevieve also stood up to the church hierarchy to ensure that her school provided all the tools the girls needed for a complete education. Although she retired in 1988, she worked with prisoners for six years, never relinquishing her passionate commitment to make a difference in the world around her. Drawing on interviews with Sister Genevieve and her friends (she died in 2001), Rae (himself a former school headmaster) offers an inspiring portrait of a woman who believed she could change the world, and did so in her own little corner of it. (Mar. 3)

Reviewed on: 02/03/2003
Release date: 03/01/2003
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 274 pages - 978-1-909869-01-1
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