In her powerful memoir, Call of the Lark, Maura Mulligan takes us behind the walls of a Franciscan convent in the 1960s and brings alive a nun's story that is both revealing and redemptive. But Call of the Lark is much more. It is also a chronicle of life in rural Ireland in the 1940s and 50s, a testament to the challenges of emigration to the United States, and a portrait of one woman's strength and determination to forge a fulfilling life. The author begins her story in a Peekskill novitiate, where she is a young postulant preparing for her marriage to Christ and reminiscing about her childhood on rain-swept farm in County Mayo, where women smoke clay pipes at a wake, the donkey brings turf from the bog to keep the fire burning, and children dibble the spuds, pick blackberries, and dodge cane-wielding schoolmasters. The night before she sails for America, young Maura, an accomplished step dancer, performs for the villagers who come to bid her farewell-the women all taking a turn at the butter churn as they arrive, a tradition believed to bestow good luck. In the bustling new world of New York City, Maura revels in the freedom of having a job at the New York Telephone Company and money to pursue her love of Irish dance. But even as she wins competitions, earns accolades at work, and is courted by a handsome and attentive young man, she feels the tug to do something more with her life and leaves the world behind to answer a higher call. In the convent, though she sometimes chafes at authority, the young postulant forges ahead, determined to meet the challenges, sacrifices and demands of her new life. Assigned to a boys' home, she discovers a gift for teaching and a love of children that intensifies the pain of realizing she will never have children of her own. During her years as a nun, Sister Maura experiences a series of even more painful family losses at the same time that she begins wrestling with doubts about her calling and questions about the role of women in the Catholic Church. She confronts her doubts, summons her courage, fixes her sites on the future, and joins the world once again. Call of the Lark is a gift of strength, comfort, and inspiration to anyone who ever has wrestled or will wrestle with doubts about his or her meaning, purpose and direction in life - in other words, to all of us. As musician and author Larry Kirwan writes, "Call of the Lark is a story of redemption that lifts both the heart and soul." About the Author Born in County Mayo, Ireland, Maura Mulligan worked on the family farm, danced on stage, and served pints in a pub. In America, she became a telephone operator and, later, a nun. Leaving religious life after sixteen years of service, she taught Irish language and dance and appeared on stage as a dancer and actor. A teacher of English to speakers of other languages in New York City public schools, she has served as Field Supervisor in the TESOL program for Hunter College. Maura Mulligan's writing has appeared in the Irish Times, Irish America, The Irish Echo, Irish Examiner, Set Dancing News, and the literary websites Ducts.org and Mr. Beller's Neighborhood. She was Writer in Residence at Heinrich Böll Cottage, Achill, Ireland (November 2009) and has appeared as a featured reader at various literary venues, including: Thalia Café at Symphony Space; Writer's Voice; Makor/Steindhardt, 92nd Street Y, Tribeca; American Irish Teachers Association; Irish Arts Center NYC; New York Irish Center; and Achill Island, County Mayo. She currently teaches Ceílí dance (Irish folk dance) in New York City.
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