Greiner, Katherine Alice. “There is a Wideness to God's University”. PhD, Boston College, 2017. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/bc-ir:107435.
Women Religious founded more than half of the current two hundred and sixty institutions of Catholic higher education in the United States. Rooted in a distinct mission to women’s education in the Catholic Intellectual Tradition, these colleges and universities have demonstrated a strong commitment to educate the politically, economically, educationally, and ecclesially marginalized, with particular emphasis on the empowerment of women. For nearly a century, these colleges and universities have creatively adapted to various changes in the educational and cultural landscape and have navigated and negotiated the complex relationships between the Church, the university, and the larger U.S. society. Ironically, their experiences and stories remain widely unknown compared to those of similar institutions founded by and for men. Using a historical and theological lens, this dissertation demonstrates how the deep stories that sustained the life and identity of many Women Religious in the United States inspired the foundation of colleges and universities that distinctively saw these stories in unique ways. In doing so, they modeled new and creative ways of education women, and others, that remain to be genuinely studied and incorporated into the larger narrative of U.S. Catholic higher education. At a time of major cultural, demographic, and ecclesial transitions, this dissertation proposes ways for those deep stories to continue to give life, even in the absence of the women who embodied them. It does so by focusing primarily on the example of the Sisters of Mercy and one of their universities. This work proposes practical approaches for leaders in Catholic higher education to embrace the deep stories grounding their institutions in order to cultivate practices and commitments that prophetically advance the identity and mission of their institutions in the twenty-first century.