Missing the Nuns


#1

Having grown up in Catholic schools, one of the saddest things in reliving some of the experience with my 8 year old is the lack of nuns. When I was a boy in the seventies, our Parish had four priests and a convent full of nuns that taught at the school. Our church now has one priest and no nuns. The large convent now serces as daycare and offices for the parish. Some of my best memories were the nuns at our school in church. Sure there was the one or two that carried a ruler around with them, but the seventies were a time when many nuns shed the typical habit and wore conservative clothes with a simple crucifix hanging around their necks. They were all very carring and loving ladies. If you skinned your knee on the playground, they were the next best thing to Mom, if you needed additional help with your school work they were there to help you. The sisters of our parish were very dear to our family and played such an active role in our lives. They orchestrated many of the fund raisers, planned the fun days, and in some ways we were closer to them then we were the priests. Growing up so close to the nuns I felt as the nuns as well as the priests were reposnsible for teaching us the fundamentals of Catholic doctrine and building our faith.

Every Sunday our church Prays for vocations, and while most of the thoughts turn to the priests as they are few in number, my mind always shoots to the nuns. So many of them touched my life. Nowadays there are so many women doing all of the formerly male jobs just as well and there even is a push for female priests which I can’t see is even a realistic request, the female priest is the nun. May God bless all our sisters and I pray for an increase in this wonderful vocation.


#2

I understand exactly how you feel. This past Sunday after Mass, I made a comment to my mom that I don't see nuns around our diocese often enough. We have one religious order that is habited and that is all. I did not grow up with nuns as teachers, but I am discerning a religious vocation and it would be nice to see them promoted more. In my diocese, they are really only promoting the priesthood because of the lack of priests, but religious life is experiencing a lack of religious, too. I'm trying to think of how to start a vocations group in my Church since we have a new pastor who is big into vocations, but I don't know how to go about it.

I pray often for more religious and priests. We need their witness in this world of ours that is fastly embracing more secular views. :(


#3

We haven't had nuns in our parish in years. :(
We did have a nun visit a few years ago. She came from Africa, Nigeria I think, to work with Hospice so she could set up one in her country.
Here is the Story:
hospiceofcitruscounty.org/pdf_files/sister%20Ann%2052107.pdf
(Father Charles is my parochial Vicar, he's from Cameroon.


#4

Yea I agree with yall, I came into the church 3 years ago but was really expecting to see nuns and priests and all that good stuff everywhere...I was unfortunately dissapointed :/

We do however have the trappist monestary about an hour away and occasionally one of the monks will vist. I think many people dont realize how much just SEEING these people can mean to the rest of us. They are living testimonies to the love of Christ. Yes we are all important members of the church but they are the easily visible members of the church that are basically showing us by example that it can indeed be done.

This is one of the reasons why Nuns, Monks, and Priests need to be wearing religious clothing, it is a visible symbol of the church's presence in our lives, and although we go to Mass, and read the scriptures and teachings of the church sometimes we just need to see someone walk by in a habit once in awhile.


#5

I miss the nuns too and agree about the need for priests and religious to be visible in the community.

The decline in the numbers of nuns seems to co-incide with the time many of the orders started to discourage the habit. It was a mistaken attempt to modernize the image and 'remove barriers'.

The formerly large orders that did away with the habit are now in terminal decline but interestingly enough the orders that retain the habit are increasing their numbers and have a strong vitality. There was a reason for the habit, as the centuries demonstrate.

That's my 2 cents worth anyway.


#6

We have maybe 4 or 5 habited nuns/sisters in our archdiocese that I've seen at my parish (there's about a dozen total, I think) -

Missionaries of Charity (Blessed Mother Teresa's Baltimore order)
Little Sisters of the Poor
All Saints Sisters of the Poor
Carmelite Nuns of Port Tobacco
The Nashville Dominicans

I've seen one sister in a beige habit, and others with a blue veil (all white for postulency I think) - one of those sisters is from Nigeria and I see her in church all the time - but I don't know what orders they are in. I think the last one is another type of dominican sister. There's another that I've seen with long semi-transparent black veils.


#7

My parish, St. Luke's Catholic Church, has three priests and a convent of nuns. I love how the whole environment is made much more holier whenever they're around. It makes the Church more alive to me. I believe the religious order is called the Sacro Costato Missionary Sisters, originally an Italian order but now it's a mix of cultures.


#8

I had the great good fortune to have nuns as teachers for twelve years. We often talk about how poorly catechized students are these days and I think it is due to the fact that we no longer have nuns. Also, our local Catholic hospital where I did my externship no longer has nuns in administrative positions and the ones who are there to visit patients from time to time wear suits. The calming feeling of seeing those nuns around the hospital is truly missed.


#9

in blunt terms, IMO the reason for the lack of priestly and religious vocations in most places is the fact that most Catholics contracept. Fewer children, fewer vocations. And the same attitude that fosters the contraceptive mentality militates against viewing children as a gift from God and a life of service to God and his Church as having value in and of itself.


#10

The shortage of nuns and priests definitely has had many consequences. I wonder how many priests and nuns were never and will never be born because of abortion.


#11

I'm going to play a mind game with you folks. I'll bet each one of you a dollar that none of you ever had nuns in your parish.

Second, I'll bet that very few of you ever pray for vocations to the religious life. :D

The answer to the riddle is in the next post.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)


#12

First . . . nuns at your parish school.

Nuns have never been allowed in parishes or anywhere outside of monasteries. They are enclosed. The women religiuos who teach school and do other external apostolic work are not nuns. To be a nun you must belong to a religious order and you must be in solemn vows. Only women who are enclosed can be members of religious orders and make solemn vows.

Women who teach, nurse, and do other corporal works of mercy, even Mother Teresa, are not nuns, because they do not belong to an order or make solemn vows. They are consecrated women religious called sisters. They belong to congregations and make simple vows. Gotcha! :D

Second . . . praying for religious vocations.

Most lay people do not know the difference between sacrament of Holy Orders and the consecrated life. Therefore when they pray for religious vocations they usually think of women religious.

The consecrated life was actually founded for brothers, not priests or women religious. St. Scholastica is the first known woman religious. Notice that I said known.

The oldest consecrated religious are the Carmelite men. They were a community of brothers, not priests. To this day, consecrated religious are brothers, sisters and nuns. When the Church asks us to pray for religious vocations she's asking us to pray for more brothers, sisters and nuns. Priests may become brothers by virtue of the fact that they may join a religious order. Many orders and congregations also allow their brothers to be ordained. However, ordination is not a requirement for the religious life, because the Sacrament of Holy Orders is accidental not essential to the religious life. It is a separate calling.

How many lay people pray for more male religious who are not priests but instead are theologians, doctors, teachers, spiritual directors, parish administrators, hospital chaplains, seminary professors, cooks, gardners, mechanics, soup kitchen and shelter administrators, hermits, monks, social workers, child care givers, work pregnancy centers, do street ministry, and more?

If you're only praying for women religious and for male religious who are priests, but not for other male religious, then you are not praying for religious vocations. You're praying for a very specific group of people, not for the religious life, Gotcha! :p

I have a very good friend who is a diocesan priest and I asked him if he prayed for religoius vocations. He said "Of course." When I asked him to explain, every male religious that he mentioned was an ordained religious. He completely forget that religious men are not always priests. Just thought I throw something in there before you got down your knees to pray for more SISTERS, also pray for more male religious. Thanks.

My community is one of those that has only 20% ordained men. We don't run parishes or celebrate sacraments outside of our houses. Therefore, we do not need the large numbers of ordained brothers. But we do need many brothers to care for the sick, elderly and unborn. Please pray for more vocation for us too.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)


#13

OK JR, I admit you got me on the difference between nuns and sisters! I figured there might be a difference, but I had no idea what that was.

Now, on praying for religious vocations, I was onto that one - thanks to you! I've been reading your answers on religious life for quite awhile now, so I knew exactly what you were getting at! You see Brother, one of your students here is actually listening!:D

I've learned so much about religous life from you, probably more than I ever thought even existed. Your in-depth answers to our sometimes naive questions and ramblings are most appreciated here. Sometimes I have to read them 2 or 3 (or more!:o) times to figure it all out, but it's always worth it!

God Bless!:)


#14

Bro JR, I don't understand. I went to a Catholic grammar school where the Sisters of Mercy lived in a convent in the school next door to the parish. They also taught at the Catholic High School and returned to the convent at night. Am I misreading your first paragraph?


#15

OK, I reread your post. People do use the terms nuns and sisters interchangeably. I never knew the distinction. But I still miss them, whatever we call them.


#16

Thanks for defining the distinction JR. I never really thought about the difference and always had used the term Nun and Sisters interchangably, but know that I think about it, the sisters at our schools were from the "Dominican Sisters".

When I pray for vocations, I'll admit that I usually think of more priests but want to draw attention to the need for Sisters. I would love to have the sisters I had in school growing up in school be around for my son. Secular teachers are great! But I think Sisters can offer so much in terms of teaching devotion to Christ and teaching living your life for God. On our trip to Rome this year, my wife who converted to Catholicism a few years ago got to see her first Sisters ever. I think that's sad, as they were all over the play when I was a boy. :thankyou:


#17

Our parish has two sisters that I see at Mass all the time--they don't wear a habit, just all blue sweaters and skirts with crucifix necklaces. They still stick way out as sisters to me! Like they just glow or something. :) I think they teach at a local Catholic school.


#18

LOL, Sorry folks. I had to do that play on you people. It's funny, because most people do not remember the rest of religious when they speak about them or pray for them.

I like this simple table. It helps. Red are consecrated men and women. Black are not consecrated men and women.

WOMEN RELIGIOUS: All live in sorority. Title of address is Sister in the Roman Church or Mother in the Orthodox Churches

Hermit: live alone, consecrated, may belong to an order or be a diocesan hermit

Nun: enclosed, makes solemn vows, belongs to a religious order (i.e. Poor Clares, Caremilite Nuns, Dominican Nuns, Benedictine Nuns, Trappistine Nuns, Augustinian Nuns). Note: Poor Clares are not connected with the Franciscan men. Francis founded them to be completely autonomous. They have their own rule of life written for them alone.. They are the only order of nuns who have the privilege of autonomy and their own rule. They answer only to the abbess and the local bishop. There is no superior general and Franciscan men may not have any affairs with them.

Sister: active, not enclose, makes simple vows, belongs to a congregation or society (i.e. Franciscan Sisters, Caremelite Sisters, Dominican Sisters, Benedictine Sisters, Augustinian Sisters, Sisters of St. Joseph, Sisters of Mercy, Missionaries of Charity, Daughters of Charity)

MALE RELIGIOUS: All live in brotherhoods. Title of address varies with each institute.

Hermit: live alone, consecrated, may belong to an order or be a diocesan hermit, may be ordained with the superior's permission, ordination not necessary (i.e. Carthusians). Proper title depends on their tradition.

Monk: enclosed, makes solemn vows, belongs to an order, may be ordained with the abbots permission, ordination not necessary (Benedictine family). Proper title depends on the monastery.

Friar: semi-enclosed, makes solemn vows and belongs to an order or makes simple vows and belongs to a congregation, may be ordained with the superior's permission, ordination not necessary (Franciscans, Carmelites, Augustinians, Dominicans, Trinitarians). Proper titles are one of the following: Friar, Brother, Frater, Fra.

Lay Brother: active, makes simple vows, belongs to a congregation (Christian Brothers, Xaverians, Marianists, Marians, Marists, Good Shepherd). May be ordained with the permission of the General Council. Proper title is Brother or Father if allowed by the congregation.

Clerk Regular: active, makes simple vows, belongs to a congregation of clerics, society of clerics, apostolic society of clerics (Salesians, Vincentians, SOLT, Redemptorists, Fathers of Mercy, Divine Word). Most are ordained. Proper title is Father unless they are not ordained, then they are Brother. Jesuits are Clerks Regular, but they are the only ones who are allowed to make solemn vows and are completely exempt of any form of Church government, except for the pope.

Secular Orders members of an actual order, not an association or a secular institute

*Francsican: * married, single, ordained (i.e. live separately, fucntion as a community, follow the same rule of life written just for them by St. Francis, have a superior general, answer only to the pope, not dependent or governed by the friars, nuns or sisters of the Franciscan family. In other words, Francis founded them to be completely autonomous.)

Carmelite: married, single, ordained (i.e. live separately, function as a community, follow the rule of the Carmelite Order, depend on the friars of the Carmelite order, do not have a superior general, but have their own form of government under the guidance of the Carmelite Friars)

*Dominican: * same as secular Carmelites

Third Orders: married or single, associate with a religious community, follow the rule and life of a religious community, less structured than a secular order, do not have a superior general, not a canonical order, do not make profession of vows

Societies of Apostolic Life usually made up of secular priests, are not consecrated, do not make vows, do not have a rule of life, governed by statutes that they can change democratically (i.e. SSPX, FSSP, Institute of Christ the King, Maryknoll, Sulpicians, Trinitarians (Fr. Corapi's)

Oblates: usually attached to one of the monasteries in the Benedictine family. Each monastery is autonomous. Married, single or ordained. Do not make vows. Live according to the Spirit of St. Benedict. Do not have a rule of their own. Do not have superiors general. Do not have canonical status as a group. Each oblate makes a gift of himself.

Our dear sisters fall into the group of Women Religious or Consecrated Life, but not into the group properly known as nuns. Even the vows have different obligations and rights from those of nuns. Most sisters were foiunded to be very active. To avoid having to succumb to the rules of nuns, the founders deliberately created them without a rule of life. That's why they do not use the title "order". Order means that one's life is ordained by a rule. They came to be called congregations, meaning to gather together. That's how they came to be free to live in apartments and other dwellings, if they choose to do so, as long as they form communities or congregate as a sisterhood. It's up to them to decide where and how they live. There is no universal rule for sisters. There are customs that have prevailed for centuries, but these were never legally binding. The same applies to congregations of lay brothers. Sisters and lay brothers are counterparts. These are not the same lay brothers that you find among the monks and friars. The lay brothers among the monks and friars are properly monks or friars.

Hope this helps.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)


#19

Great reference JR.

I'll be saving that one if you don't mind! :D


#20

[quote="Dj87, post:1, topic:205209"]
Having grown up in Catholic schools, one of the saddest things in reliving some of the experience with my 8 year old is the lack of nuns. When I was a boy in the seventies, our Parish had four priests and a convent full of nuns that taught at the school. Our church now has one priest and no nuns. The large convent now serces as daycare and offices for the parish. Some of my best memories were the nuns at our school in church. Sure there was the one or two that carried a ruler around with them, but the seventies were a time when many nuns shed the typical habit and wore conservative clothes with a simple crucifix hanging around their necks. They were all very carring and loving ladies. If you skinned your knee on the playground, they were the next best thing to Mom, if you needed additional help with your school work they were there to help you. The sisters of our parish were very dear to our family and played such an active role in our lives. They orchestrated many of the fund raisers, planned the fun days, and in some ways we were closer to them then we were the priests. Growing up so close to the nuns I felt as the nuns as well as the priests were reposnsible for teaching us the fundamentals of Catholic doctrine and building our faith.

Every Sunday our church Prays for vocations, and while most of the thoughts turn to the priests as they are few in number, my mind always shoots to the nuns. So many of them touched my life. Nowadays there are so many women doing all of the formerly male jobs just as well and there even is a push for female priests which I can't see is even a realistic request, the female priest is the nun. May God bless all our sisters and I pray for an increase in this wonderful vocation.

[/quote]

I can't understand what you are saying, thousands and thousands of young women are becoming nuns - the church is increasing going from strength to strength... there is no "shortage" of devout young women.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.