Nuns Not On The BusFor the Dominicans, Catholicism functions as a boat, one with high walls that protects and carries you, while for the Sisters of St. Joseph, the church is a life jacket, something that travels easily and lets you look around. But although they use their religion in different ways, the nuns were all among the best people I had met in a long time. They were smart, cheerful, and authentic, not vain.
And brave. Sisters in both congregations told me their parents were shocked by their decisions—even those who became nuns back in 1960, when all good Catholics were supposed to want to give a daughter or a son to the church. At least for a middle-class girl from a proper New England town, whether Sister Jane or Sister Anna, it was always unusual to commit so much to the church. It was never an ordinary calling. Even those nuns who eschew left-wing politics are radicals indeed, for in our age it has always been a bit radical to be a nun.... Read the whole article.
I found the article to be refreshingly balanced and insightful. The author visited two groups of sisters, one main-stream group: the Sisters of St. Joseph in Holyoke, MA, and one habited: the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia. Both groups have found a way to live the Gospel in a radical way. I would like to explore a story that is hinted at in Mr. Oppenheimer's piece, but is not followed up: "each wing of American sisterhood counts about 500 women in the multi-year process of becoming nuns."
So where are these 500 new women in the "wing of American sisterhood" represented in the article by the Sisters of St. Joseph? They are here, they are living the gospel in a very conscious and deliberate way. They are living in communities where the median age is nearing 80. Those of us who have entered our communities in the last 25 years are beginning to find our distinctive voice and to explore our future together. I think this is the group to watch as we enter into dialogue about the future of religious life and radical gospel living.
Giving Voice represents the younger part of this cohort. The older part of the cohort has yet to find its own place, although this blog is an attempt to do that.