By Kate Dugan
As many of you know, some folks have started a “Thank you, Sister” letter-writing campaign in response to the Vatican’s investigation of women’s religious communities in the U.S. I thought I’d share mine here.
When I look around at my life, I often forget how influential vowed religious women, sisters, have been and are in my life. So I offer here a brief litany of some of the women and communities who have shaped me. Thank you.
Thank you, Sr. PL, my first babysitter. My mom was nervous about leaving her first-born with any old neighborhood kid, so she called out to the Benedictine monastery in town to ask for help. Sr. PL to the rescue!
Thank you, Sr. Virginia, my third-grade teacher and kiddy-corner neighbor. She let me lector at Mass and I loved standing at the microphone, even though she always told me I read too fast. Later, after I’d moved away to college, she had me and several of my co-third-graders over for a gracious dinner, where I think she hoped we’d all realize our religious callings. None of us have, but very much appreciated the sincerity (and the chicken!)
Thank you, Sr. MaryBeth, the first nun I knew who seemed “cool.” She one of the many many women who staffed and steered a three-day vocation camp run by the women religious of South Dakota. Somewhere around a hundred pre-teen and teenage girls would camp at Lake Poinsett and learn about vocation–in all its varied and complicated forms. Imagine all those serene women surrounded by 100 adolescent girls! We owe you.
Thank you, Sr. Rose, whose gift of photography taught me patience and beauty. And she shared it with me in a completely unexpected package of notecards at my high school graduation.
Thank you to the Benedictine women of St. Joseph, Minnesota. You infused our college with such a spirit of Benedictine values that my friend graduated able to say, “I’m not always sure I’m a Christian, but I’m definitely a Benedictine.”
And as I settle into an academic career that involves studying Catholicism, I am cognizant of how many religious women, nuns, paved this path for me. It wasn’t that long ago that some of the most educated women in the country were nuns. I aspire to walk in those footsteps.
There are are countless more thank yous, of course. Thank you, Sisters, for the ways you shape my life. I am grateful.
Kate Dugan is a co-editor of From the Pews in the Back and hopes to be as Benedictine as her friend.