Monday, December 3, 2012

Love cannot be silenced

I graduated from a Catholic grade school named St. Pascal Baylon way back in 1961. Although I wasn’t able to attend, my graduation class held a 50 year reunion on October 8, 2011, which was preceded by another gathering the group had organized in 2007.

Of the sixteen teachers that we had during our tenure, 11 of them were nuns, and our school principals were Sister Alice Gertrude (1959 through 1956) and Sister Sophia (1956-1962).

As I recall, class sizes were usually in the range of 40 to 50 kids, which would horrify most modern educators. Our Pastor, Father John V. Ryan, would personally pass out report cards on “report card day”, which turned out to be a source of great anxiety for some of my fellow students.

If your parents were members of the parish, your school tuition was very minimal. If your parents had a LOT of kids (the Sachi family had 12 kids, and the Chapeau family had 13) tuition was absolutely free.

I still remember that Sister Sophia was a very intimidating principal, and that Sister Resignata was an absolute peach. Their fellow religious instructors were Sister Anthony Therese, Sister Clarilla, Sister Beatrice Ann, Sister Theodora, Sister Joan Mary, Sister Thomasine, Sister Margarita, Sister Camille, Sister Delphine, and Sister Myra.

I was in the group that had Miss Peltier for 6th grade instead of Sister Margarita. I won’t say that she was crazy, but I saw her come “unhinged” a whole lot of times.

The nuns belonged to an order called the Sisters of St. Joseph. Even though I haven’t belonged to a Catholic parish for more than 20 years, I still have fond memories of those old nuns.

The Sisters of St. Joseph were in the news recently, but for a very strange reason. The group had come under criticism by the Vatican for focusing too much on poverty and economic justice, and “keeping silent” on abortion and same sex marriage. If you’re a good student of history, you’re aware of the fact that abortions and same sex unions existed during the time of Christ, who preferred to focus on poverty and economic justice, but you’re not going to find that information in The Baltimore Catechism.

The New York Times article about the order is worth reading in its entirety, but here’s the short version:

Sister Kathy Sherman, of La Grange Park, Illinois, has belonged to the order of the Sisters of St. Joseph of La Grange since 1980, just a few years after graduating from college. Although she always starts her day with prayer, she has a different view of prayer than most people.

“I don’t just pray and go to work. My work is my prayer. They’re not separate. It’s a wholeness. The contemplative life nurtures my ministry, and my ministry nurtures my contemplative life”.

Sister Kathy has been playing the guitar since her college days. Two days after the Vatican issued its condemnation of her order, she wrote another song, which she titled “Love cannot be silenced”. Even if you’re not a Catholic, it’s worth listening to:

Love cannot be silenced.

I’m a firm believer in not criticizing the religion of others, and I’m also adamant about separating religion and politics, as was Barry Goldwater.

Having said that though, there ARE times that it’s appropriate to consider a blending of the two. Like most of us, Sister Kathy became disturbed by the negative tone of the recent Presidential campaign, and she wrote a song about it. It doesn’t matter whether you voted for Romney or Obama, but it DOES matter that we are all Americans, and ALL of us should listen to “This is the America I Believe In”.

Many people aren’t aware that there are Roman Catholic women priests celebrating Mass in this country. If you’d like to know more about that topic, the video titled “Pink Smoke Over the Vatican” is now available.

It’s unlikely that the Vatican will recognize any of them in the near future, but it WILL happen eventually. After all, women served as ministers in the early days of the Catholic church until the 4th century.

If you’re not happy about the Vatican’s recent criticism of the order of St. Joseph, and you belong to a Catholic parish, the solution is simple: write a letter to your bishop. Public opinion can be surprisingly effective in bringing about change, and I’d be willing to bet that some of people pictured below could help bring about that change.

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