Sadly, it seems women religous are underappreciated, underrepresented and overly stereotyped in the United States. One of the unexpected blessings of this year has been the relationship our lay program has with the Sister of Saint Francis of the Neumann Communities. These women are progressive, educated and dedicated to social justice. Each month or so we share dinner and prayer with these sisters and every time I walk away with lessons and laughs. I wish that someone would stand on a soapbox and exclaim to the world NUNS MATTER, THEY ARE SAVING THE WORLD!
The Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities, who claim St. Marianne Cope as one of their own, is a congregation of more than 460 vowed women religious whose Franciscan spirit motivates them to continue God’s work and respond to God’s people wherever there is a need. The sisters serve in 12 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Africa and Peru. Many of these women have multiple secondary degrees. I know of at least one that is a lawyer, nurse and social worker. These women devote their lives to their community, service and prayer. Their vocation is not cloistered but the opposite, bringing them deep into the needs of the poor and the world of academia. If there is a need for a financial position at the hospital that used to be run by the nuns, a sister would be chosen to fill that role. If she hadnt been educated in that field, she would be given the proper education. Many of these women have had multiple successful professions throughout their lives, all for the benefit of the community they are serving. The nuns are advocates for social justice, for stewardship for creation and their God.
The Daughters of Mary Mother of Healing Love ran the Saint Charles Children’s Home in Rochester NH. I volunteered with this program for three years while at Saint Anselm. Much like the women who make up the SOSF, these women were tenacious, motivated and very down to earth, working with extremely vulnerable children and their adoptive and biological parents. I think of those women often, especially in my service with Operation Safety Net. They provided me with a view of service that promotes dignity, love and humor. I sorely miss my Friday afternoons spent playing outside, dancing while doing dishes and conversing with the most inspiring women I have ever experienced.
Not to mention my favorite Dominican Sr. Maureen Sullivan, the master of all things Vatican II! I know this has been an exciting time for her with the double canonization of two amazing popes recently! Her course on Vatican II was pivotal in my view of the Church and helped spark my own little fire in seeking a life of hope, service and social progress.
I cannot reiterate enough how much these women have affected my life. Though I do not feel a call to religous life, I have the deepest respect and appreciation for the incredible women I have met. Their faith is endless, love pure and motivation unparalleled.
This is my personal shoutout to all the women religious of the world. Thank you for all you do, for having the courage to fulfill your calling and make this world more full of love.