The Other I

August 31, 2007

The day I entered the convent

Filed under: Life as a Nun — theotheri @ 7:59 pm

I entered the convent to join the Maryknoll sisters on September 2nd, 1958.  My parents and I were met at the front entrance by Sister Miriam Therese, a middle-aged woman with an earth-mother figure and a face of non-nonsense kindness.  I was taken to a room where I changed my civilian clothes for a postulant’s outfit – black, dowdy everything from short head veil to sturdy black shoes and stockings.  I was then returned to the front rooms of the convent, now officially belonging to Maryknoll, to bid farewell to my parents.

I did not find it difficult.  I was setting out on an exciting adventure and I loved it.  Getting up at 5:30 am, hours of silence and a disciplined routine did not strain me.  It was akin to a honeymoon, I think.  As with a honeymoon, I saw everything through a glow, a positive perspective of naive trust.  I thought I would soon be sent to the missions as part of the commitment made between Maryknoll and me.  I would offer obedience in exchange for the chance to serve the poor in the developing world. 

Only gradually did I realize that Maryknoll and I did not share that perspective.  After nine years, I had been sent no further than Paterson, New Jersey, where I spent three months one summer.  I felt Maryknoll had betrayed its unspoken promise, and, as with a honeymoon that has run into cold reality, the Maryknoll superiors felt that many of us younger sisters were self-willed and rebellious.  In the end it was very much like a divorce. 

But there are many stories about what happened in those nine years between September 1958 and September 1967 when I walked back out that same front door I’d first come in no longer a Maryknoll Sister.

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