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"... the very persons who are run down by those who know nothing of their charity"

This last June, the Los Angeles Dodgers gave their “Community Hero Award” to a predominantly male group that calls themselves the “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.” These men paint their faces like clowns and often dress themselves with flamboyant wimples (head and neck coverings) and garments that mimic those worn by Catholic Sisters. They go by names such as Sister Porn Again, Sister Demonic, Sister Sin Bloom, etc. They hold a “Hunky Jesus” contest. On their website, they mock Jesus’ words of “Go, and sin no more” (John 8:11) with their slogan: “Go, and sin some more.”


What is disturbing about this is not just the group itself, but that so many approve of this ridicule. Instead of mockery and vilification, Catholic Sisters deserve honor and praise for all the good they have done! Take, for example, Sr. Marianne Cope (along with six other Sisters) who answered Fr. Damien’s call for help in serving the lepers on the island of Molokai. She wrote to Fr. Damien: “I am hungry for the work and I wish with all my heart to be one of the chosen Ones, whose privilege it will be, to sacrifice themselves for the salvation of the souls of the poor Islanders... I am not afraid of any disease; hence it would be my greatest delight even to minister to the abandoned ‘lepers.’” Sr. Marianne sacrificed herself for the lepers on Molokai from 1888 until she died in 1918. Thirty years.


During the U.S. Civil War, hundreds of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul served as battlefield nurses for both sides. These Sisters comforted the dying, baptized some of the soldiers, cleaned their maggot-infested wounds, and sometimes contracted lice from those they were treating. After the Battle of Gettysburg, a man came to Gettysburg looking for his son. Upon seeing the Sisters caring for wounded soldiers, he said to his hotelier, “Good God, can those Sisters be the persons whose religion we always run down?” The hotel owner replied, “Yes. They are the very persons who are run down by those who know nothing of their charity.”


In Minnesota, we have the example of the Sisters of St. Francis of Rochester. In 1883, a tornado tore through Rochester, killing and injuring many. The Sisters, who were a teaching order, took in and cared for the wounded. Afterwards, Sr. Alfred Moes approached Dr. W. W. Mayo with her idea of a hospital. Dr. Mayo didn’t think it was a good idea. But she persisted, asking that if they secured funding, and then built, administered, and staffed it, would he and his sons agree to be their doctors? He agreed. St. Mary’s Hospital opened in 1889, and the Mayo Clinic is the present day result. (Short films on this can be found at history.mayoclinic.org/heritage-films/).


Closer to home, in St. Paul, the Little Sisters of the Poor have a nursing home, the Holy Family Residence, that serves the low income elderly--- no matter what race or religion. They write that “Christ is the center of their home,” and that besides nursing care they try to “communicate the mercy and tenderness of God.”


I have had my own good experiences with the Dominican Sisters in grade school. I recall being taught manners. In one exercise, a boy would open the door for one of the girls, and then walk through himself. This was repeated until each boy had opened the door for one girl. The Sisters would have us pray for the afflicted when the siren of an ambulance was heard. They were most patient with their classes of 40 plus students. What fine examples!


To what then, can one attribute this vilification of Catholic Sisters? One suspects that this is due to the fact that they were, and are, so good. Their example of purity and charity is a silent reproach to those who want to “Go, and sin some more.”


In 1965, there were over 180,000 Catholic Sisters and Nuns in the United States. By 2019, that number had dropped to 31,350--- a decrease of over 82%! What a terrible loss! One can’t help but think that the erosion of our moral standards and increasing incivility is due, in part, to the decrease in the number of Catholic Sisters. If we in the laity live holier lives, the result will be more religious vocations, including Catholic Sisters. Meanwhile, it’s imperative that we thank God for them, thank them personally, defend them when they are ridiculed, encourage them in their prayers and works for the salvation of souls, and encourage more vocations.


This month, your station will air several programs about Sisters and Nuns that we hope viewers will find inspiring and edifying. Please continue to support your station by telling others about it, telling us your ideas, offering to place program guides in your parish’s information rack, offering to volunteer, praying for its success, and a financial contribution if possible.


Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

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