The history of a feminist religious movement that mobilized the Chicana/Latina community
Chicana/Latina Religious-Political Activism in the U.S. Catholic Church
Search the full text of this book
Outstanding Academic Title, Choice, 2005
In this historical study, Lara Medina examines the early development and continuing influence of Las Hermanas, a feminist organization established in 1971 to counter the patriarchy and Eurocentrism of the U.S. Catholic Church.
Lara Medina weaves archival research and oral interviews into a cohesive narrative that highlights the keen ethnic and political awareness among the movement's leaders and participants. Medina also illuminates the strides made by Las Hermanas in undermining and reorienting the male-dominated structure of both the Catholic ministry and the Chicano civil rights movement.
By showing how the group has engaged such issues as moral authority, sexuality, and domestic abuse through its religiously informed efforts in grassroots community organizing and education, Lara Medina showcases the crucial role played by Las Hermanas in the articulation of a spiritually and politically grounded Latina/Chicana identity.
"Lara Medina's book is groundbreaking in its contribution to both Latino/a and Roman Catholic history. It offers new material on Las Hermanas, an extremely important organization that has long been neglected by religious historians. In addition, the book brings forth the religious dimension of Chicana/Latina political activism, an aspect often ignored by secular Chicano/a scholars."
"Extensively researched, well contextualized, and compellingly told, Las Hermanas will change the way people think about Mexican American women, and change also the way people think about the Catholic Church. It demands serious attention."
"Medina offers a well-researched and well-written history of Las Hermanas... [She] carefully details Las Hermanas's struggles...[and b]attles waged by Las Hermanas to bring about reform are vividly described.... [t]his scholarly work, the only book-length work on this important feminist group, fills the void in the literature of the disciplines of Chicana/o studies, religious studies, and women's studies. Summing Up: Highly recommended."
"Lara Medina provides a very moving account of the impact an organized group of clerical and lay Latinas, primarily Chicanas, has had on both institutional reform within the Roman Catholic Church and social reform in the United States over the past three decades... She does an excellent job reviewing how Las Hermanas are engaged in larger social movements... For those unfamiliar with these organizations and initiatives, this text is a valuable resource. For those already well acquainted with these groups, Medina provides 'insider' captivating accounts of the conflicts and collaborations between these groups over three decades."
"Medina compellingly demonstrates the role played by Chicana/Latina women in addressing such issues as working conditions of migrant workers, the moral authority of the Church and its sexist reality, and the problem of family violence.... Anyone interested in the development of people in the context of their religion and the relationship of religion to that development will find this book most helpful and engaging."
"This is a welcome supplemental text for anyone interested in the history of Latina activism within the Catholic Church.... Medina has a sure touch with her informants, the leaders of Las Hermanas. Her descriptions provide a reliable account of the events and circumstances that shaped the organization."
"[An] historical and sociological compelling work."
"Like the Hermanas, Lara Medina does not mince words. The result is a fascinating look at what the Catholic Church in the United States experienced from the 1970s to 2004 through the eyes of a defiant group of nuns and laywomen. ...Medina has filled a critical scholarly void... [T]his book is an eye-opener."
Lara Medina is Associate Professor, Department of Chicano and Chicana Studies, California State University, Northridge.