Shaped by Silence: Stories from Inmates of the Good Shepherd Laundries and Reformatories
Shaped by Silence brings together the powerful stories of five women from Ireland, Canada, and Australia whose lives were shaped by forced confinement in Magdalene laundries and other institutions operated by the Roman Catholic Order of Sisters of the Good Shepherd. Their narratives include one teenager’s experience in a Good Shepherd training school in Canada; another story of a child who was born in a Canadian Good Shepherd laundry; and three accounts of adolescent girls held in Good Shepherd Magdalene laundries in Ireland and Australia. In these institutions, women and girls became a coerced workforce. Hard, unpaid and relentless physical toil, isolation, enforced silence, and prayer constituted the nuns’ strategy for converting their “fallen” charges into the Christian image of pure womanhood. Within this regime, girls and women suffered physical, psychological, and emotional abuse. While intimately capturing the dark and enduring after-effects of ill-treatment, the stories recounted in Shaped by Silencealso describe survivors’ efforts to heal and rebuild their lives.