In 1996 the television documentary Dear Daughter brought the subject of abuse in residential institutions to the attention of the public, and in 2002 the film The Magdalene Sisters highlighted the treatment of women in the Magdalen laundries. Since then these subjects have rarely left the public mind. The nuns who worked in these institutions have been, for the most part, silent on these and other matters. This collective memoir presents the other side, the hidden life behind the convent walls. It is written from the perspective of a former nun who has unique insight into religious life and covers the period 1930 to 2008. In For God's Sake ten nuns recount their life stories. They come from all social strata and from different convents and congregations. They tell tales of a very repressive regime, of a strict social class system, of stifled emotions and of the harsh life in the Magdalen laundries and industrial schools. For many nuns the dreams of their young lives have been shattered by events beyond their control.
Each story covers some aspects of convent life and the individual responses to it, and they offer some understanding of why nobody noticed the abuse, or if they did, why they turned a blind eye. These stories are important because they reveal a way of life that has long since passed, where every aspect of women's lives was governed by a male-dominated hierarchical Church that promised salvation, and even sainthood, to those who were faithful to its precepts. The nuns took vows and owed blind obedience to their superior who alone knew God's will, and in telling their stories finally become aware of many of the damaging effects the convent system had on their personalities.