Carole Garibaldi Rogers is an oral historian and a poet. She is also author of Habits of Change: An Oral History of American Nuns (Oxford University Press, 2011). She recently blogged about the current situation involving the Vatican and U.S. Catholic Sisters drawing on her experience conducting interviews with 94 women religious across the United States and across religious communities beginning in the 1990s. Rogers’ message is clear: Get to know the Catholic sisters and nuns who are “behind the controversy”.
This is a welcome approach to the endless commentary on a situation that we continue to know very little about. Lest we baptize all of our personal opinions (indeed some rather scathing and unconscionable opinions) as undeniable fact, let’s shift the discussion and get to know U.S. Catholic sisters and nuns and see where religious life is in the ecclesial landscape.
Reflecting on her work in Tanzania and Congo, Sister Rosemarie tells Rogers:
“That’s the cost of relationships. You’re into their lives. They’re into your life. We enter into the pain of people, and I guess for me it’s become more the pain of the world. It’s so deep. There are so many trouble spots and there are so many people who don’t get a share at the table. I hope my prayers are deeper. I hope my walking on this earth is gentler and more caring and more compassionate. I also feel that I have met the people and they’ve told me their story. So what is now my responsibility?” (read more at the Oxford University Press blog, May 6, 2012)
Sister Mary Rose, who succeeded Father Bruce Ritter as the Director of Covenant House, an agency to protect runaway teens, spoke to Rogers about her work:
“These kids are trying to figure out what they’re going to do with their drunken father who beats them or who sexually abuses them. Or they’re kids forced into prostitution to have money to buy their school books. What a different world it is. What it does, it just whets my appetite for what we do, to try to give these kids the second chance they need to get started over again. People will say to me, ‘How can you do that work all the time? Don’t you begin to feel overwhelmed by all these kids?’ And I always say, ‘The only way we can make a mistake is to stop.’ The only time the church fails is when it stops being a caring community.” (read more at the Oxford University Press blog, May 7, 2012)
Check out more by Rogers and her book Habits of Change at carolegaribaldirogers.net.
To see all the NUNDAY stories of Catholic sisters and nuns we’ve posted, visit the NUNDAY at aNunsLife.org. If you’ve got a photo and story (how you know Sister) of a real Catholic sister or nun, check out the details on submitting your photo for consideration.