Maureen Hallinan (1941-2014) was best known as a brilliant mathematician and acclaimed social scientist from the University of Notre Dame. Lesser known was that the one-time religious sister was also a devout Catholic and an irascible skeptic who wrestled with both God and the Church until her final breath. In the colorful and inspirational memoir, Maureen recounts her life's stories—from growing up as the daughter of Irish immigrants, to navigating convent life and women's rights, to confronting domestic tragedy and personal anguish—with equal parts faith and doubt. She lays bare the mysteries of unabated spiritual hunger, suffering, and death with a fighting resolve to find the answers. But as she nears the end of her life, still searching for and puzzled by the God she loves, her simple refrains becomes, "I don't know." She writes, "I seem like such an odd duck to myself. I don't think I'm like normal people." Struggling believers who read her story will see otherwise. She speaks for all of us.
This amazingly insightful, humorous, and engaging memoir will serve as a spiritual touchstone for a generation and beyond. - Fr. Timothy Scully, C.S.C.
What I really appreciated, better late than never, and all the deeper the impression given the missed opportunity, so close yet so far, is the articulation of her story in its rich candor and genuine compassion. Maureen’s life and the way she tells it (with the help of Ann Primus Berends) emerges as a biographical memoir that reflects a very singular moment in American Church history as well as a shift in religious education from the convent-linked school to the ACE model collaborative network that is now taking over. She stands, in this regard, as an exemplary pivotal figure, not least because of her fidelity to that original calling that took her from the urban Irish ghetto to the heights of Hyde Park, Madison, and finally the apogee Notre Dame.
It struck me that in a way, her story defines the trajectory of an era, and to that extent, this little memoir is an invaluable resource for younger teachers and school administrators who look back over the hilltops of the last 80 years (say, post great depression, post-WW II, certain post-Vatican II) with only a vague notion of the opportunities, choices, and challenges that teachers faced as they made their way in those years. It is, therefore, a sort of prime document of the marvelous ACE story which it celebrates. - Fr. Patrick D. Gaffney, C.S.C.