“The Sisterhood: Becoming Nuns”–A Review

As it’s been said before, “We don’t have a lack of vocations; we have a lack of people willing to say “yes” to their vocation[s].” So, what could be more unexpected in this day of bizarre reality shows than an honest, balanced look into the lives of five young women who are pursuing discernment to religious life?

http://www.mylifetime.com/shows/the-sisterhood-becoming-nuns

If you thought it couldn’t be pulled off, the popularity of “The Sisterhood: Becoming Nuns” and the beloved “nunnies” in each of the three religious communities has proved you wrong! One of the nunnies, as I believe online social media maven Sr. Helena Burns dubbed them, is so popular that the folks clamoring for another season are also interested in her having her own show (Sr. Beth Ann, Vocations Directress at The Daughters of St. Mary of Providence in Chicago). Who would have thought that?

For starters, the five young ladies couldn’t have been more different; they were a delightful representation of godly young women with a wide range of backgrounds, talents, and, of course, personalities. This is exactly as it is in a religious community and the producers of the show did a fine job of selecting a vibrant group to follow over the six episodes (way too few!). They went on a six week journey visiting a total of three convents of different religious orders to give them a glimpse of whether they are ready to begin official discernment, the first step toward becoming a nun.

During their time they hear of others’ vocations stories, realize that women living together *is* really hard–one nun remarks that she’s “surprised there’s never been a murder”<g>–nuns actually take the time to disrobe from habits into swimsuits and go swimming to relax, blow off steam, exercise, and/or just have fun together. Of course, once back into their habits, they also have fun dancing and doing all the normal kind of things “normal” people do. But seeing a nun out of her habit was something they weren’t prepared for; I’m not sure any of us viewers were! 🙂

The Daughters of St. Mary of Providence, the second convent they visited, is located in urban Chicago, quite different than the first Carmelite house in Germantown and the final community in Kentucky. At the Chicago house they take care of people with special needs, have a soup kitchen, and walk the downtown streets passing out bags of food to people who live in dire poverty. Once a week there’s a trip to the South Side Chicago markets to “beg” for food for those they care for, as part of their trusting in Divine Providence to meet the needs of their mission.

As Sr. Beth Ann responded to the question “how do you know if you have a vocation?” with her own answer, given to her from no less than–wait for it–Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta decades before: “You sit with Jesus in Adoration for 10 minutes a day for two weeks and let Him love your heart. Then you’ll know.”

I’ve had some communication with Christie Young, one of the young women who I was drawn to before the show began airing because of her use of social media and because she felt like, if I may say so, a bit of a kindred spirit. I’m old enough to be her mom but feel as young as she is because I too have a great passion for living as it’s so obvious Christie has. Her love for Our Lord is transparent and at times causes her deeply intense experiences that others don’t always “get”—perhaps because they have not her temperament nor personality nor charisms. The bottom line is that it appears God may be calling Christie to be His bride and she is radiant with expectation as any fiancée would be. She is not without her own issues to work out, as are we all, especially when seeking our vocations, but she’s quite open and honest.

Here’s a look at Christie’s story. She’s 27, born into a Catholic family and she still follows the traditional tenets of the Church, the only girl with several brothers. She’s been engaged but realized it wasn’t God’s plan for her life and laughingly jokes that she probably couldn’t not be in (chaste) relationships without the convent–not that she deliberately seeks them out, they just end up “happening”. She has a number of special interests and talents: writing (poetry, song lyrics, et al.); reading; being part of a country music band; having fun; and, I venture to say, generally loving being alive! She has a zest about her and has been discerning on and off for about nine years.

***Spoiler Alert***

If you have not finished the series then stop right now if you don’t want to know how things stood with each of the girls by the end.

Francesca is ready to continue living a life in the world but not of it for now, but has a strong connection to the Carmelites and had some of them over to her home to meet her family and is keeping in touch with them. She recently just got her own apartment; congrats, Francesca! Originally Stacey, who broke up with her boyfriend to pursue discernment, was conflicted and thought she’d try the Sisters of St. Mary of Providence with Christie but since the show was filmed last summer got engaged to her old boyfriend so she has found her vocation: marriage. Congrats to Stacey and her fiance! Eseni and Darnell are back together and are planning their own future, which I’m sure will be another beautiful vocation of marriage.

Claire requested and was accepted into planning to discern with the The Sisters of St. Joseph of Mercy in Kentucky as she knew while there that it was just the place for her. She is currently finishing her college degree in music. Finally, Christie decided to pursue her vocation as a nun and the series was filmed this summer and now she is now beginning initially as an aspirant and then move onto being a postulant with The Daughters of St. Mary of Providence today, the feast of St. Antony, Abbot (founder of monasticism); congrats, Christie!

P.S. The good sisters in Chicago have allowed her to enter before she paid off all her college loans so if you’d like to help pay off Christie’s debt you can do so online here:

https://www.crowdrise.com/Convent4Christie

You can also send it direct to the convent and and just let them know it’s to help pay off her debt.

The Daughters of St. Mary of Providence

4200 N. Austin Ave.

Chicago, IL 60634

BREAKING NEWS: The show premiered in the U.K. today; a coincidence? I think not! 🙂

Please keep all these young women in your prayers. Becoming a nun is no easy task; neither is remaining one. But if it’s your calling, you won’t be satisfied with anything less. The most moving book I’ve ever read about religious sisters is the novel by Rumer Godden, In This House of Brede.

http://www.amazon.com/This-House-Brede-Rumer-Godden/dp/0829421289/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1421546868&sr=8-1&keywords=in+this+house+of+brede

I highly recommend it as a follow up to the Lifetime tv series.

 

 

 

 

 

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