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``And Mary danced'': Communication and spirituality at a women's religious organization

Purdue University
Publication Date
  • Religion
  • General|Women'S Studies|Speech Communication|Psychology
  • Industrial
  • Communication


The purpose of the project described in this document was to examine organizational spirituality in an effort to contribute to more holistic understandings of organizing. The project involved an interpretive, qualitative, ethnographic study of a women's religious organization--the Aberdeen, South Dakota congregation of the Presentation Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The question I sought to answer in this project was: What is the relationship among communication, organizational spirituality, and organizational identification? I argue that these three constructs are products and producers of each other. In an effort to give voice to the organizational experiences of women, I approach this project from a feminist perspective. In addition, I utilize critical theory as a frame for understanding activities of critical self-reflection in which the Presentation Sisters are engaged. I understood spirituality to be a path to reach the divine; the Presentation Sisters were found to exhibit a similar understanding. Presentation spirituality was described and nine manifestations of that spirituality were identified: stories; worship; artwork; formal presentations; printed literature; ministry; Chapter directives; the sisters' activities which influence the surrounding community; and, daily lived examples of Presentation spirituality. As these manifestations of spirituality were created and observed, organizational spirituality was created and recreated. The nuanced relationship between communal and individual spirituality was discussed; for the Presentation Sisters, individual and communal spirituality were intimately connected. Finally, I note that organizational spirituality and organizational identification were co-constructed to a large extent for the Presentation Sisters and this co-construction was accomplished through communication. However, this process was complicated in lived organizational life as some of the very things that unify the organization and promote organizational identification also divided the order on certain issues. ^

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