If Nuns Ruled the World…

by | Aug 27, 2021 | Formation, Reflections, Vincentian Family | 1 comment

A self-described agnostic, Jo Piazza, writes… “I may not believe in God, but I do believe in nuns.”  So much so that she wrote a book, “If Nuns Ruled the World: Ten Sisters on a Mission.”

Searching for something in an archive of posts I wrote for famvin.org, I rediscovered one that I had written about her book. Piazza acknowledges the incongruity of the situation and explains why she wrote her book:

“…For a good portion of my career I covered the entertainment industry and celebrities. One of my goals here was to elevate the incredible work of the nuns so that we will consume their stories as hungrily as we consume content about celebrities… Nuns are the true embodiment of the way that Christians believe Jesus Christ wanted us to live. They are right there fighting on the frontlines of social justice for the people who live at the margins of our society. They rarely get banner headlines or magazine covers or even recognition from their male peers, but they do it anyway…”

Global Sisters Report

I immediately thought of the Global Sisters Report, which I read as a source of news and information about Catholic sisters and the critical issues facing the people they serve.

How conscious are you that

Nuns built America’s largest private school system founding and running over 10,000 schools, colleges and universities in the United States. At its peak in the 1950s, the Catholic school system educated 11% of America’s students.

Nuns created America’s nonprofit hospital systems building over 800 hospitals. At their peak in the 1950s, nuns are responsible for providing one out of every five hospital beds in America. This was made possible through the administration of these hospitals by innovative and educated nuns.

Nuns were some of America’s first feminists. Catholic nuns managed hospitals, orphanages, schools and charitable organizations in America long before these types of jobs were open to women. Catholic nuns were the first large network of female professionals in the United States in a time where most agreed that a “woman’s place” was in the home. Nuns fought for the rights and opinions of women while battling their own sexist workplace, where some bishops of the time regarded nuns as their “subjects.”

Nuns are not strangers to dangerous situations. Nuns were fearless pioneers who carried out their service work while taking on mobs, riots, war, disease, discrimination and so much more.

It’s in their DNA

Talk about “getting things done”! It’s in their DNA to spot needs before most… and do something about it. No wonder Global Sisters Report fascinates me. It is also why the project Nuns & Nones“ fascinates me. (Nones identify as having no religious belief.)

“Nuns and Nones”  is an intergenerational, spiritual community dedicated to care, contemplation, and courageous action in service of life and liberation.

In 2016, Nuns & Nones began as a simple invitation:

“Let’s bring sisters and seekers together to explore things like community, belonging, justice, and spiritual practice. Over the last four years, that humble experiment gave way to local groups and gatherings, a growing national network, and even experiments like a six-month pilot residency in a convent.”

They have discovered a shared call among sisters and seekers alike, to support committed communities— new and old alike— to enact the long-term work of repair and renewal that is needed in our world.

Beyond stereotypes

  • What is your image of “nuns”… and “nones”
  • What lessons can they teach each other?

1 Comment

  1. Ross

    If the way mothers run homes, too, is any indication, women, in general, will make for a better world, and church, in my view, if given more opportunities.

    St. Monica, St. Augustine, please pray for us.

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