Margaret Susan Thompson is a professor of history at Syracuse University. She is a scholar of the history of women's religious life and has published and spoken extensively on the history of American sisters. She is an associate with the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Monroe, Michigan.

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'Success' in religious life: What is it?

On a number of occasions, in speaking with groups of sisters, I have approached the end of my remarks by asking two questions: What do you consider the most successful time in your community's history? And, what do you consider the most inspirational time?

An outsider studies the insider world of women religious

Getting to know a distinct culture is possible for outsiders, providing they are willing to do the work. So I entered into my work researching sisters with the expectation that I was perfectly capable of understanding this world, although it would take time to learn enough about it to write capably and confidently.

Of nuns, habits, chainsaws, and why the combination is less than 'nuntastic'

GSR Today - For too long, habited nuns have been used in media as quaint, and frequently infantilized, curiosities. At the same time, sisters who wear secular clothing go unnoticed and largely unappreciated.

Sisters in the public square: Persuasion, politics and prayer

As the Nuns on the Bus prepare to hit the road again, and as memories of the so-called Little Sisters of the Poor case before the Supreme Court remain fresh in American memories, it is tempting to regard the political activities of sisters as something modern and out of the ordinary. Nothing could be farther from the truth.