Identity, Identification, and Change: An Examination of Nuns’ Lived Experiences Post Vatican II

Publication Date


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Arts in Communication



Major Advisor

Mary Frances Casper


This thesis explores nuns’ lived experiences, identity, and identification with the Catholic Church after Vatican II. For the purposes of this thesis, commitment and identification are interchangeable terms. Specifically, I focus on the micro-moments of the identification process by investigating the lived experiences of nuns who maintained their pledge after doctrinal change, and the process by which they made that choice. Micro-moments are defined as moments of decision in which the individual continues to identify with the organization (DiSanza & Bullis, 1999). To understand nuns’ identification, I pose two research questions: what are the lived experiences of nuns transitioning from pre- to post-Vatican II and how did nuns negotiate the changes of Vatican II? Eight sisters, from St. Gertrude’s Monastery, were interviewed for this research. After detailing the historical background of Vatican II, the responses analyzed from the interviews were used as support for answering the research questions. Each of the eight sisters revealed subconscious moments that lead to their continued identification with the Catholic Church. Understanding how nuns’ micro-moments can lead to further identification and therefore commitment, can help organizations with long-term members maintain their identification.

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