Poverty

double crossed

I just had a heated discussion over the phone with one of my former nun friends. We each left the community during the massive exodus of the 1960’s and ‘70s. Unlike me, she has remained a practicing Catholic until recently. Over the yeasr we have shared a growing disappointment and disgust toward the stuanch patriarchal attitude of the boys in Rome toward women. I left the convent the day I left the convent, but my friend has persisted until now. The fundamentalist, anti-women attitude of her new young pastor has finally pushed her away.

I told her about the book I’d recently discovered: Double Crossed: Uncovering the Catholic Church’s Betrayal of American Nuns, bKenneth Briggs. We were reminded of how much  our services had been taken for granted and how little we nun has been paid for our dedicated work in the Parochial schools.  The amount were were given did not even constitute a living wage. For years, my friend faithfully served as both principal and full time classroom teacher with a salary of $75 a month. An entire staff of nuns received an average total of $200 a month. As a result, the schools flourished and the nuns were left with paltry retirement funds for our future.

At the time, money mattered little to us. We never dealt with money. Financial matters were handled between parish priests and the Motherhouse Superior and her staff. Each mission received a budgeted amount for its basic household needs directly from the Motherhouse. Never allowed to question anything at all, we nuns were expected to put our trust in God. It wasn’t until we were rudely awakened in the aftermath of Vatican II when we were forced to deal with the world of finances again. The day would come when would see how shortchanged we would be for retirement. Whether we remained in the convent or not, we would be forced to live deal with the consequences of our current/former Vow of Poverty.

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A Good Story

grass valley church

While tooting my own horn, I decided to share a review by my much-respected and dearly beloved writer friend. She posted the following on Amazon about my book, Once Upon a Time: The Memoirs of a Lesbian Nun. . . 

“The soul of this book is what most of us look for in a story—direct talk, honesty, good descriptions, explanations, and an appealing connection to the reader. Every ex-nun story describes overlapping events, but this author’s deeper level of sharing everything adds to the reader’s understanding and experiential reactions–sometimes surprisingly, sometimes with just enough extra depth to make one say, “Oh, that’s why she was concerned–that angle of background wouldn’t have occurred to me.
If you’re looking for a titillating book about young women, you may be confusing it with last night’s television programs. This story begins with why the author went to the convent. 20th century vocations were complicated. Priest, nuns, and others in authority sometimes urged parents to give up their child (it used to be “one from each family for the Church”). Teenage girls who looked for ways to save the world and get to “be somebody” at the same time, had no clue what lay ahead of them in the ubiquitous silence, hours of prayer and physical work, constant permissions and planned humiliations, and lack of autonomous power. They were shocked at how few days a year they would be allowed to speak to their nun teachers/friends. Add the discovery of one’s Lesbianism, and the Candidate was out in the middle of the sea without a guidelines boat. At least until Vatican II.
You may be surprised at turns in this true account, or not. Regardless, you will be touched by the author’s narrative. Once Upon A Convent is a great story and well worth reading.”

My New Home

I believe I may have found my new home.

A friend invited me to attend a Catholic based liturgy Sunday evening with a group of individuals rejected by the official Church. They named themselves Koininia Journey Community.  Upon entering the sanctuary of the ancient-looking Episcopal Church, I encountered the group of Church rejects gathered in front of a three-story high pipe organ. They were practicing songs for the celebration. Others sat scattered in benches surrounding the central altar. When they noticed us, some rushed forward to greet and embrace us. I immediately felt I belonged among among this odd assortment of former Catholics, a few homeless individuals, and other vagabonds.

The abbreviated ritual was based on the essential elements of the Catholic liturgy. Just long enough and not boring. When I closed my eyes, it was easy to image Jesus feeling quite at home among this gathering that of his earliest followers.

Before the formation of a formal priesthood.

Before Takeover of Rules.

The Journey Community shares the duties and responsibilities of priesthood equally among those who wish to serve.  As well as the offer of its collective and unconditionally loving Heart to all.