NEWPORT, R.I. – John Quinn, professor and chair of the department of history at Salve Regina University, will talk about his sabbatical research on the role nuns have played in Newport’s Catholic community when he presents a public lecture next week in McKillop Library.
Quinn will present “At Work in the Eden of America: Nuns’ Role in Newport’s Catholic Community” on Monday, Oct. 4 at 4 p.m. in the Munroe Special Collections Room. A reception will follow Dr. Quinn’s presentation. The talk is free and open to the public.
While much has been written on Newport’s long tradition of religious toleration and religious diversity, little attention has been paid to the city’s Catholics, who have been a significant presence since the mid-nineteenth century. Still less attention has been given to religious sisters who have played a critical role in the life of the Catholic community.
In 1854 Mother Frances Warde brought the first group of nuns to Newport at the request of the pastor of St. Mary’s Church. Warde was eager to bring the Mercy sisters to Newport, which she considered the “Eden of America.”
In the intervening years, nine other religious communities established themselves in Newport, often living and working in Gilded Age mansions. The sisters have run several grammar schools, three high schools for girls, two nursing homes, a day care center, an orphanage, two retreat houses and a college/university.
They have generally been well regarded by non-Catholic Newporters and have helped promote good relations between Protestants and Catholics in the city.