This weekend 75 women will return to the motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Baden, some for the first time since they removed their long, black habits and left the convent years ago in a cloak of secrecy.
…In 1976, it was an attempt to heal the bitterness over changes, secret departures and broken friendships. This time the purpose is to celebrate the time the women had together and what they have done since their paths diverged.
….”It’s the life and the peace that you find here, the people you connect with,” she said of what drew her. “There is a spirit here.”
But in a strict and silent pre-Vatican II convent, her bubbly personality spilled past the limits. Some rules made no sense. Why were sisters in a community forbidden to communicate with one another? Why were sisters with no aptitude for teaching automatically sent into the classroom?
Had she remained a few years longer until the reforms following Vatican II changed “Mother Superior” into “the moderator,” she thinks she might have stayed.
“But I was full of life and had a real hard time not being able to talk to people,” she said.
She had joined almost by accident in 1961. She didn’t know the sisters and had felt no pull to religious life. But a friend had gone to Baden and invited her on a retreat.
“I really liked the spirit, the goodness here and decided that was what I wanted to do,” she said.
For 28 years she taught school, adult religious education and worked as a parish minister in the Bronx, N.Y. Yet she suspected she was in the wrong place. She didn’t believe some of the things she was expected to teach.
One thing that struck about this article is that is was all about relationships and spirit of the community, not a word about trying to fulfill a vocation with Christ. It sounded more like an Elk’s club then a convent. Convent life was in need of reform but changing Mother superior to moderator is just silly, who will have obedience to a moderator. The women that “suspected she was in the wrong place” at least left the convent instead of trying to teach those items she believe in. Too many continued to be heterodox and to teach their views.