Band of Sisters tells the story of Catholic nuns and their work for social justice after Vatican II of the 1960s. For Catholics who wonder what became of the nuns they knew in habits and convents many years ago, for activists who may feel profoundly discouraged given the problems of today’s world, for women seeking equality in their church, and for people of all faiths yearning for an inclusive and contemplative spirituality, Band of Sisters challenges us to ask what really matters in life. And as we seek what matters, how do we go about changing our lives and the world around us?
“I did exactly what the church asked me–and now, the church is looking at me like, where have you come from…who are you?” says Sister Nancy Sylvester, IHM (Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary), in Band of Sisters about the remarkable transformation of Catholic nuns in the United States since Vatican II of the 1960s, and the reaction of some members of the church hierarchy who oppose their changes. Perhaps more than any other group, U.S. nuns embraced Vatican II’s call to serve where there was the greatest need.
In Band of Sisters, the work of two nuns outside a Chicago-area deportation center serves as an introduction to the tumultuous and engaged world of U.S. Catholic nuns in the fifty years following Vatican II. From sheltered “daughters of the church” once swathed in medieval dress to activists on the front lines of causes for social justice,Band of Sisters follows the journey of these religious women in their work for civil rights, immigration reform, and a host of other causes. Becoming increasingly relevant and visible in aid of the poor and disenfranchised, the sisters now increasingly find themselves on a collision course with the conservative elements in their own church. (Description courtesy of the Gene Siskel Film Center.)