The Preaching of the Sisters

When I was approaching my ordination in 1989, my family presented me with a gift of stoles. My late grandmother sewed my red ordination stole and a purple Lenten stole. The others, including the white stole I will wear around my shoulders this Sunday, were made by the Ecclesiastical Arts Department of the Sisters of the Most Precious Blood in O’Fallon, Missouri, overseen for some 55 years by the late Sister Hiltrudis Powers, CPPS.

While serving as a pastor in St. Louis in 1990, I led a group of 7th and 8th graders from my parish through a day-long workshop/field trip on expressing our faith through art and symbols. On a crisp Fall Saturday morning, we gathered in our own worship space, and I asked the group “What symbols and art do you see here?” The youth found it to be fairly bare, and offered only a few comments. We moved from “home” to the first of our scheduled stops – a local Greek orthodox church, with its elaborate mosaics and stained glass. The sexton gave us a tour, and once he realized I could read Greek, he gave us quite a full tour indeed. In contrast to our worship space, this one was incredibly ornate, and from the moment we stepped into it, the youth had no trouble pointing out symbols and art, even if they didn’t immediately know what the symbols meant.

After lunch, we took in the very different style of mosaics and art at the “new” Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. Louis. Here, we were in an enormously large facility, which the youth realized lends itself to an entirely different approach to art. Again, the youth were quite talkative, filled with comments and questions and debate, as 7th and 8th graders generally are. Finally, we drove out to O’Fallon for our third stop, and visited with Sister Hiltrudis who gave us a tour of their workspaces and their chapel.

“You know, I designed your pastor’s white Easter stole,” she told the group as we stood looking at a number of stoles being made. “While we are Catholics,” she said while gesturing to her sisters, “our art preaches to everyone who encounters it, and we are glad to have Lutherans and others come to us for their vestments.” She talked to the youth about the choices of fabric, of designs, and of stitching, and of the way in which the various sisters each had their own special gifts for artistic creation. I was delightfully surprised to see even those youth with no interest whatsoever in sewing peering intently at what was happening around them.

“When it comes to you Lutherans,” Sister Hiltrudis went on, “we can almost tell how liberal or conservative you are, or what seminary you attend, by what you order from us.” Pointing to several stoles that were being worked on, she continued, “The more liberal ELCA folks from Seminex like your pastor tend toward modern designs, the conservative Missouri Synod Lutherans from Concordia Seminary tend toward more traditional designs, and the LCMS students from their Fort Wayne seminary (the most conservative of all) choose traditional designs with fringe at the bottom of the stole.” She laughed, the youth laughed, and so did I.

Then she took us into their chapel, and talked not just about designing the stained glass windows, but also the banners and paraments that adorned the space. She told them of working with architects and others to design the furnishings and indeed, the space itself. “When you look around,” she told the youth, “you are seeing the preaching that my sisters and I do. Your pastor preaches in his way, and we preach in ours.”

When we finally said farewell, the drive back to our parish was quiet, as the youth pondered what they had been through all day. We ended our day back in our own worship space, and I asked them the same question I had at the beginning: “What symbols and art do you see here?” Suddenly, the words came pouring out, as these youth saw their “home” much differently, thanks in large part to Sister Hiltrudis.

I thought of her again this past week, after the doctrinal assessment of the LCWR was announced, because I knew that Sister Hiltrudis’ superior, the late Sister Mary Whited, had served as LCWR’s president in 2007. Years after taking my youth on that visit, with my Ph.D. in Worship, the Arts, and Proclamation in hand, and with more than 20 years of ordained ministry behind me, I still feel in awe of Sister Hiltrudis and her more than 60 years of preaching.

And I will be honored to wear one of her sermons this Sunday once again.

Peter Rehwaldt is a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, with a Ph.D. in Worship, the Arts, and Proclamation from the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley CA. He served for six years as the Director for Research of The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada, and currently resides in Lee’s Summit, MO. He has taught and spoken in various settings on preaching, liturgy, and the multigenerational nature of the church.


    1. Thanks Pastor Rehwaldt for this wonderful story. I know someone who appreciates both good art and good preaching who will be delighted with this post.

  1. Precisely the point, I believe, that was made on the first page of the doctrinal assessment: “The Holy See acknowledges with gratitude the great contribution of women Religious to the Church in the United States…”

    1. If the doctrinal assessment had stopped there or continued in the same vein, there wouldn’t be this uproar. It’s the implied “but” that’s causing the problems.
      (On the other hand, had the doctrinal assessment stopped there or continued in the same vein, there might have been an uproar from different parties!)

      1. I don’t understand what’s difficult about this. Why should it be impossible to praise the work of the sisters on the ground while critiquing the excesses of their leadership clique, or to praise even what those leaders do at some times and critique what they do at other times?

        Too many people on both sides of these issues have fallen into a mentality of total warfare, where anything positive about the other side is a “victory” for them and thus a loss for you, and there can be no thought of making voluntary concessions. So on some blogs news about a single Latin Mass in Oklahoma counts as a “win for the good guys” and a corresponding stick in the eye of “liberals” everywhere; news about the latest “clown Mass” or “balloon Mass” must be speedily retweeted so that everyone can join in the fun of acting shocked and disgusted. Then again, in the comments at places NCR anything that stands to damage “the hierarchy” in any way, even if it is child abuse, represents a vital weapon for “our side” and is to be non-too-subtly applauded; conversely, it is a massive defeat when a hierarch is not guilty of covering up child abuse.

        So what’s the problem with a “but,” implied or otherwise? What’s so confusing about saying “you are doing a good job with ministry to the poor, etc., but your leaders’ doctrinal wackiness needs to be fixed”? It is only the inability to climb above this sad mentality of total combat that gives us these shocked reactions that go, “Now the bishops have declared all-out war on the sisters. They evidently hate all the ministry the sisters do on the ground.”

        I mean, unless you think that enneagrams, New Age, and agitating for abortion rights are vital to the ministry of Catholic sisters on the ground. They aren’t, though.

      2. Oh Emily, while I was reading your post I was pleasantly surprised and I thought it sounded very non judgmental and actually reasonable, especially the part about “people falling into a mentality of total warfare”.

        Then I read your last paragraph and I was no longer surprised. Seems like you couldn’t resist and have fallen for that “sad mentality” too.

  2. Why should it be impossible to praise the work of the sisters on the ground while critiquing the excesses of their leadership clique,

    Because the joint assumptions of such criticisms are that 1. there is a leadership clique and 2. that the rest of the Sisters are so foolish and weak willed as to fall helpless into the clutches of such a clique.

    Note also – the original posting was an admiring essay on one member of the so-called “leadership clique”!

    1. I’ve known several sisters who did important outreach and ministry on the ground (not too many, of course, because there are so few nowadays, but several). I can safely say that not a single one of them seemed like they would have the slightest interest in “consciousness evolution,” “moving beyond Jesus,” and the other topics of LCWR conference keynotes, all of which appear to be inane, vapid, and to have simultaneously no discernible connection to Catholicism or to ministry. Franky, none of the sisters I’ve known seemed like they would want to be caught dead at such a thing — and I’m not talking about “conservative” nuns, just ordinary hard-working sister. The sisters I have known were anything but weak-willed; that’s what makes it frustrating that their parasitic hierarchy of self-styled leaders takes advantage of them in this way.

      Needless to say, it’s the same way union leaders treat the union members who elect them, politicians treat their electorate, and so on. Nothing new here. But when someone criticizes politicians, their excesses, and their disconnectedness from the real concerns of their base, nobody retorts, “This is a massive slam against all voters!” So why would you or anybody else think that a criticism of the excesses of the jet-setting professional sister leadership — the Joan Chittister and Laurie Brink types — is any kind of a commentary at all on their “base” of nuns and sisters on the ground? It isn’t.

      1. LCWR’s website has a full archive of past conferences, including the addresses and remarks made by keynote speakers, LCWR presidents, and various award recipients.

        I found your judgment of these words — “all of which appear to be inane, vapid, and to have simultaneously no discernible connection to Catholicism or to ministry” — to be off target. As I read through Sister Laurie Brink’s 2007 address (the one that was cited by the CDF in their assessment), I found it to be extremely connected to Catholicism and to ministry. As she relates in her remarks, the task assigned to her by the LCWR program committee, was this:

        The LCWR Planning committee posed and prioritized several questions for my deliberation as I prepared for this presentation.
        · What are the challenges for us today—within congregations, in the church and in our world? What biblical insights can we get into these challenges?
        · What is your vision of Religious Life for the future and what biblical stories support your vision?
        · What are the reasons for religious to be hopeful?
        · What voices would you like us to listen to as we contemplate the future of Religious Life?
        · In what ways could Generation X see the future as needing to be different from the past? (see page 6)

        People can disagree with *how* she answered these questions, but to say that her remarks were inane, vapid, and disconnected from the church and ministry is not something I can agree with at all.

        I found them to be very thought-provoking and well worth pondering — not simply for Catholics, but for anyone interested in ministry in the 21st century.

  3. To Brigid: If the doctrinal assessment had stopped there or continued in the same vein, there wouldn’t be this uproar.

    In other words, the uproar is that there is negative content in the doctrinal assessment at all; that the Vatican perceives some sort of doctrinal problem among the LCWR. Is that what you’re saying?

    Or is your point that the doctrinal assessment spends very few sentences on the positives and devotes dozens of paragraphs to the negatives?

    What if we omit the word “clique” from Emily’s question: “Why should it be impossible to praise the work of the sisters on the ground while the critiquing the excesses of their leadership?” Does this still produce the assumption that the sisters belonging to the congregations represented by the LCWR “are so foolish and weak willed” as to be influenced by the actions and decisions of their leadership?

    Because one point made by the doctrinal assessment is that the other sisters in the congregations may indeed be being influenced by the actions of the leadership. (Whether it is because the sisters are “foolish and weak willed”, they do not say.)

    “While recognizing that this doctrinal Assessment concerns a particular conference of major superiors […] nevertheless the Assessment reveals serious doctrinal problems which affect many [others] in Consecrated Life” (p. 2).

    Also see the two paragraphs under the minor heading “The Role of the LCWR in the Doctrinal Formation of Religious Superiors and Formators” (p. 6).

    1. Having concluded that Emily is not visiting us from another era, I face the grim possibility that things like clown Masses and balloon Masses are still known to happen these days. Perhaps not clown/balloon Masses per se, but things which might be easily categorized with them.

      For example, one parish in Austria had someone appear in costume as the Easter Bunny on Easter Sunday, reportedly to read the intercessions during the Prayer of the Faithful. I could see this being called an “Easter Bunny Mass” and being lumped together with balloon Masses and clown Masses.

      1. If the Easter Bunny gave an excellent homily would that be better than someone dressed up like Jesus giving a very poor homily? I am not condoning the easter bunny, but since the bunny is already there, just a thought?

      2. I saw the clip you referred to.

        First, isn’t it amazing that the horror of this event is such that it is being discussed (judged) here and elsewhere on the blogosphere?

        Second – look at the faces of the families at that FAMILY Mass (not the Vigil Mass!)- there is real joy there. Those people will be back next Sunday. Those children when grown, will be church going until the day they are made unwelcome!

      3. Thanks, Jeffrey. And Cardinal Schönborn’s balloon Mass was only in 2008 (feel free to Google it), so hardly “another era” either.

        Brigid: you might be right. Then again, what seemed cool and novel to these young kids might well seem childish, secular, and just immensely lame to them in five years or so. I loved going to Chuck-E-Cheese when I was of a certain age to wonder at the animatronic mice and play in the ball pit, but it wasn’t being “unwelcome” that made me stop going.

      4. So there a couple of silly balloon Masses out of millions of Masses so why does Emily keep bringing it up.
        I guess since the SSPX will soon be on board I will have to remind her of the possible hundreds of Jew hating homilies given by these newly minted traditional Catholics.

        I guess now Brigid, Jack and I will have to keep count since Emily seems to have this balloon Mass “hiccup” that won’t go away…
        Nothing like the scary truth (SSPX) to cure that hiccup.

        I’ll take the balloon Masses anytime, they will never cause another pogrom.

      5. Gee, Dale, I’ve brought the topic up a grand total of … let me count, now … oh, once. The one with the obsession seems to be you. 🙂

  4. I guess many of us are reflecting on the role of sisters with the Vatican’s concern about some elements of this “umbrella group” the LCWR, while representing the majority of orders by those orders sending a representative sister to this organization, they don’t represent every sister in every order that sends sisters to represent them.
    But what I am most grateful for about the sisters who taught me (Sisters of Saint Joseph of Corondelet of Saint Louis) and other sisters I have known and have worked with (Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception from 1980 to 2004) is their dedication and ecumenical outreach. In pre-Vatican II times in the south, the religious sisters did more for ecumenism by inviting children of Protestant denominations as well as Jews to attend our Catholic schools. Many Protestants in the south have a very long family tradition of using Catholic schools which goes back generations. Our Catholic hospitals also accomplished a great deal of good work in the area of ecumenism and goodwill toward the sisters in particular and the Catholic Church in general. All of this sometimes was accomplished in the larger community not by a single word that the sisters spoke or taught but by the habit they wore. For the most part there was great respect by Protestants, even many fundamentalist Protestants for the habit and what the sisters represented. Although I can remember as a child one of our sister teachers telling us about the first time they arrived in a small Georgia community in my diocese that some fundamentalist Protestants actually would cross over to the other side of the street to avoid them and one person spit at them (this was in the 1940’s) but after they established a Catholic school in that community and got to be known, they were loved by that community that at first shunned them. Today in Macon we have the Daughters of Charity continuing this wonderful tradition of ecumenism in one of our schools and in their service to the poor, especially poor families. One sister who in the last two years returned to wearing the simple veil of her order (it’s optional) found that the Protestants in town absolutely loved it as do most Catholics.The first time she wore it to Mass, I had parishioners say to me that they didn’t know Macon had any sisters! She has worked tirelessly to bring all the faith communities together (Catholic, Protestant, Jews and Unitarians) to build and staff a day shelter for the homeless and coordinated through her leadership and DePaul USA. It is amazing!

    1. Father – it’s bad form to drag an argument from one thread into the next – but if you will permit me this transgression –
      1. You have often complained that Catholic parents send their children to your parish school, but do not attend Mass.
      2. You indicate here that the day-to-day operations of the school, perhaps the general atmosphere, is largely influenced by the Sisters. Clearly they were able to welcome non-Catholics without the parents fearing overt proselytizing. Indeed, the implication is that the Sisters respect other Faith traditions.
      3. If I understand correctly, you fired a Catholic teacher for daring to marry in a non-Catholic ceremony without first getting permission from the bishop. In effect, you accused this couple of engaging in fornication and punished them for it by ending the teacher’s employment even though their families and friends had witnessed their vows.
      I would conclude that at least some of the parents prefer the Sisters’ “preaching” to your own!

      And now, some questions:
      1. Is Sister honored because she wears a veil, or because she works to provide a day shelter?
      2. If you knew of the Sisters’ work, why didn’t your parishioners until one Sister put on a veil?
      3. If Sister went down to Atlanta to lobby for decent housing for the homeless, or higher wages for the poor so they could buy their own housing, or mental health care for the sick so they wouldn’t be homeless, would you applaud her efforts or accuse her of radical feminism?

      1. Brigid, your problems with the Church, her hierarchy, her priesthood, her discipline, her canon law and her own problems really need to be hashed out with a confessor and/or spiritual director and not on a blog. Just some friendly advice.

      2. Fr. Alan, I appreciate your gentle advice to Brigid, and I’m sure you want the best for her. But I wouldn’t stifle these concerns of hers at Pray Tell, as long as she or any commenter follows our guidelines. I say this because Brigid’s concerns are the concerns of many – not necessarily of me in all cases, but certainly of many, many people I know. We’re in one of those era when there are many voices calling for a “reform of head and members,” and I think it best that Pray Tell try to be a forum for constructive discussion forum for questions that won’t go away anytime soon.

      3. since her remarks and questions were directed to me specifically and not in general I think my advice is perfectly sound or Brigid could call me or frame her concerns in a generic way for others to respond including me.

      4. Brigid – sorry that this happened to your good faith effort to explain your views.

        You will not “convert” Fr. Allan – his “ontological” change places him in a higher order than you. His comments are also disingenuous – from his other blog:

        You surfaced and asked a very good question – is wearing a “habit” more important than the actual service ministry? Per Fr. Allan: “……the silliest of the changes in the Church of the 1960’s and 70’s was fomented not by the laity but by priests and liberal women religious (sisters)”

        Or – “…..And somewhat tied to this video is this post from Rorate Caeli, The Abandonment of the Cassock: The Primary Cause of Decay in Ecclesiastical Life which you can press here to read there.”

        “……these habited sisters did more for ecumenism in their full habits than any other thing we’ve done since Vatican II and this was in pre-Vatican times!” (the pics are worth the price of admission)

        My first and most important question and comment: If the salvation of your soul isn’t the primary reason for being and remaining Catholic, then being and remaining Catholic makes no real sense, does it? That’s the most important question to answer correctly; all else is but a diversion to the real reason for being Catholic”:

        (well, there goes the gospel imperatives, mission, and service. There goes “Love your neighbor as yourself”; there goes the “emptying” of the Kenosis Hymn. But, let’s face it – Jesus died for the salvation of his soul and as a sideline, he saved us.”

        Or – “I still contend that the reason 80% of Catholics don’t attend Mass anymore and have become “bad” Catholics has to be understood within the context of what the Church was like prior to the Second Vatican Council, what it became in the 1960’s and ’70’s before Pope John Paul’s election in 1978 as well as secularizing trends in academia, the media and even within Catholicism that has created such polarization and led to the diminution of the number of Catholics actually practicing the Faith in 2012.”

        Or – “Of course my generation of baby-boomers used Vatican II in the 1960’s to rebel against our parents and to show them how stupid they were for believing like pre-Vatican II Catholics.”

        Really, can’t make this stuff up – ahhhh, the alternative universe with its sweeping judgments and arrogant generalizations based purely upon ????.

      5. Bill, I am still baffled why you don’t write these coments on my blog. I’ll print them and respond there too as will others.
        As per Brigid’s specific questions to me:
        1. In our parish school we accept as many children as we can–right now the Protestant to Catholic ratio is almost even and we don’t reject children whose Catholic parents don’t attend Mass.
        2. Not everyone in the parish knows the sister in question is as well as those who work more closely with her and certainly our visitors (who are many) don’t know her at all–her veil identifies her for 100% of the people who see her, yet her work/ministry is the same with or without the veil (it is a sacramental) and the veil is a powerful sermon without words, thus related to the topic of this post, btw.
        3. Our faculty and adjunct personnel are from a variety of faith traditions
        4.Sister and her other sisters (DC’s) do lobby politically as does our parish not only on behalf of the poor but also for the poorest of the poor–the unborn–our political lobbying is controversial to some.
        5. Due process is given to anyone terminated and warnings precede any such termination. We follow diocesan policy.

  5. Since the sisters (and all lay women and men) are barred from the pulpit, we are forced to find more creative ways to spread the Word! And we do!!!!!!! These sisters (and many others) speak God’s word with their textile art and there are many who preach God’s Word with their music, their painting, their decor of the sanctuary, their preparations for liturgy and many other pursuits. We CAN preach by what we do with our lives, even though we CANNOT approach the pulpit!

  6. Fathers, I thank you both for your kind attention to my words. I will retire for the moment before my smart mouth gets the better of my charity!

  7. Fr. Anthony

    I think Allan McDonald’s comment

    Brigid, your problems with the Church, her hierarchy, her priesthood, her discipline, her canon law and her own problems really need to be hashed out with a confessor and/or spiritual director and not on a blog. Just some friendly advice.

    is completely inappropriate and has no place on this blog.

    Would you really tolerate it if for example I suggested that Allan’s responses and behavior on this blog have more to do with deep seated psychological problems, and that he would be better off spending his time with a mental health counselor than participating on this blog???

    1. Jack, you haven’t said it, but it certainly has been implied by others. Somehow, confessor and or spiritual director doesn’t seem to me to have the same connotations as mental health expert in the least. Why in the world you would think that it implies a serious-deep seated psychological problem is rather fascinating if not out right ludicrous.

    2. I thank you for expressing your concern, since what’s written on blogs can be very cutting depending on where a person is on a given day. In this case, I think Father McDonald’s response speaks for itself and makes my point better than I ever could!

    3. My comment is addressed to the moderator of the blog under the comments policy. I do not intend to get involved in a discussion with others.

      3. Be charitable and respectful. Personal attacks, libelous statements, and anything disrespectful or lacking in ecumenical sensitivity will be removed.

      We are here to discuss (and even debate) issues. Part of being charitable and respectful of others (not only our interlocutors but every one) is not to personalize issues. Even, and perhaps especially, when people bring up their personal experiences, we have to respectful and not to intrude into their personal space and feelings even under the guise of being personally helpful.

      Certainly many people have expressed deep personal issues on this blog. We should listen respectively. But part of respective listening is to avoid suggesting that we have the answers, or that the person speaking needs personal help. In other words that they are taking up time and space on this blog.

      In the public mental health system, consumers often speak publicly of their bad experiences in the system. In those public meetings neither I nor any other mental health administrative would ever have suggested that the person speaking had some sort of personal problem that needed to be solved by counseling. If any of us had, we would rightly have been fired.

      So I find A.J. MacDonald’s comment extremely reprehensible and disrespectful.

      1. Interesting . . . both here and in some other places I’ve seen that this subject has summoned up quite a bit of invective. Most of it around putting forth a few absurd “examples” of religious who have gone off the rails and applying those examples across the board.

      2. Fr Jim, I was taught by the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary (1962-1970).
        They taught us Protestants were going to Hell.
        My mother was a convert but most of her brothers and sisters were Protestant. The sisters didn’t drive at that time and my mother would drive them to their mother house in Methuen MA.
        She had a “conversation” with the sisters on this, she wasn’t going to tolerate this and no more rides if they didn’t stop.
        Apparently, the need to get to the mother house was greater than teaching Protestants went to Hell so the rides to Methuen continued!

  8. Jack and Brigid – to your well stated points:

    Issues for discussion at U.S. Bishop’s Conference 1995

    “A group of U.S. bishops submitted a document to the Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee on Mission and Structure. It appeared in ORIGINS (19/6/1995), a publication of the U.S. Bishops’ Conference.

    ‘The need to find ways to have more open discussion in a climate of trust is best illustrated by considering current issues in the church that seem not to be addressed openly. These include the priest shortage, priest morale, ecumenical issues, school funding, women and equality in the church, the relationships of youth, Hispanics in the church, better preaching, better liturgy, better relationships with the poor, the relationship of the conference with Rome, the public face of the church on abortion, the annulment process, the loss of Eucharist, alliance of the right wing with some fundamentalist leaders, contraception, sexual ethics, the kind of candidates being attracted to priesthood, anticatholic feeling surfacing in the United States, the ordination of married men, rumours of a high percentage of homosexual men in the seminaries and in the priesthood. In particular, the issue of paedophilia among priests continues to create a very serious credibility problem for the U.S. bishops because of our perceived unwillingness to fully address and explore the reasons for this terrible tragedy.’

    These bishops were not silenced, and many of the issues have not gone away. In fact some of the issues have increased in urgency.

    Brigid – this underlines both your thoughts and questions. Faith is a journey; not a rules exam that you pass to receive a heavenly reward.

    Jack – was thinking the same thing with my daily use of the DSM IV Revised and 10 years of formation experience. But how do you say that without violating your latter comment or blog policy?

    1. Bill, that’s some list of issues. I do not have access to ORIGINS. I would be interested in seeing which bishops signed the list and what ecclesiastical office, if any, they hold 18 years later. I would also be interested in knowing whether the full body of bishop discussed the list, or the 50-member administrative committee, or even the ad hoc committee. Was there ever further mention of the list?

      June 1995 is just around the time a friend of mine remarked, concerning liturgical renewal in the USA, “Everything from now on is down the toilet.”

      The bishops may not have been silenced, but the more astute ones knew how to read the signs of the times.

      And, yes, the issues are still with the Church.

      1. Sorry, Fr. Ron. My subscription to Origins evaporated years ago. Agree with your comments and, IMO, it was only an ad hoc committee that voiced this to the 50 member admin group. Doubt it ever went any further. Again, IMO, this was the last gasp of the bishops appointed prior to JPII and with advice from Jadot.

        Your questions are good ones – can’t answer but, like you, would like to see who was part of this group. Guessing only, but doubt that many are still active much less younger than 75 years old. Would also like to see if any in this group held an archdiocesan position, was part of the USCCB primary positions, etc.

        Wonder if this wasn’t a “last gasp” given that many of these issues were proclaimed and shut down as “definitive” by JPII and B16.

    2. It is an interesting list, but what was meant by “anti-Catholic feeling surfacing in the United States”? Was this a harbinger of the Fortnight for Freedom initiative?

      1. Don’t know – would be interesting to have some explanation or input.

        What got my attention is that this list is 17 years old – the issues (by and large) are still unresolved, unaddressed (in most cases), and continue to impact catholics.

        If there is any shift, we would not see this type of published list coming from the USCCB and Rome currently seems to have relegated many of the topics to a new theology category – “definitive truth” – meaning, it is settled, not infallible, but so close that no discussion is allowed or necessary.

        jrf- given 1995, this would be a few years prior to Francis George’s emergence as the powerbroker – we know his impact on ICEL and liturgy. You would have a better sense and memory of who might have generated this Origins article.

  9. Well, back to the original message of nuns making priests’ stoles, etc…Wonder just who made an Orlando priest’s Easter Mass outfit…a chausible with bunny rabbits pictured on it. The outfit was completed with a pink and blue stole with easter eggs. So cute!! No one could miss the meaning of Easter by that! This was not a children’s Mass…it was for adults.

  10. Dale Rodriguez :

    Really? I was taught by the the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia from 1946 to 1954. Not one of them ever said, or even intimated, that Protestants were going to hell. Wasn’t Leonard Feeney, SJ, of Boston excommunicated for his affirming “nulla salus, extra ecclesiam” in the late 1940s? The Methuen, Massachusetts Sisters must have been slow in getting the news.

    But then, there are so many stereotypes of the Sisters’ views before the Second Vatican Council. And now fifty years after the Council, misrepresenting the Sisters’ views seems to have taken on a new life.

    Fr Jim, I was taught by the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary (1962-1970).
    They taught us Protestants were going to Hell.
    My mother was a convert but most of her brothers and sisters were Protestant. The sisters didn’t drive at that time and my mother would drive them to their mother house in Methuen MA.
    She had a “conversation” with the sisters on this, she wasn’t going to tolerate this and no more rides if they didn’t stop.
    Apparently, the need to get to the mother house was greater than teaching Protestants went to Hell so the rides to Methuen continued!

    Only comments with a full name will be approved.

  11. FYI- my above comment on the priest’s bunny and egg outfit is sarcasm. Wouldn’t want anyone to think that I actually thought it was even remotely cute.

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