The Ridiculous Joan Chittister

December 2006

Sr. Joan Chittister gave the keynote address at the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in Atlanta, Georgia, on August 18-21. According to the National Catholic Reporter (Sept. 8, 2006), Chittister said that “nuns should not be discouraged by their falling number, which dropped from 125,000 in 1976 to 67,000 today.” Actually, the decline is worse than that: Right after Vatican II in 1965 there were 179,954 nuns, and it’s projected that in 2020 there will be only 39,282, of whom 18,490 will be age 70 or older (according to Index of Leading Catholic Indicators by Kenneth C. Jones [Roman Catholic Books]). What a disaster Vatican II has been for, among other aspects of the Church, our nuns. According to the Reporter, Chittister also said that “nuns must continue outreach and advocacy programs.” Quoting Chittister, “There is a temptation to equate numbers with effectiveness.” But without more numbers, “outreach and advocacy” will diminish. There’s no way around that. There’s no way to put a happy face on that.

New Oxford Notes: December 2006

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What will actually happen is that orders like that of Joan Chittister will disappear altogether. They are already composed of only aging women.

Whereas faithful orders and communities like the Dominican Sisters of St Cecelia in Nashville will continue to grow.

So all in all, that's a good thing for the Church.
Posted by: gluze
December 15, 2006 12:46 PM EST
I'm with you, dorrino. For the last few years, I served as the Spiritual Director of a youth retreat program in my diocese. Each retreat included a talk on vocations, typically given by a diocesan seminarian and/or a professed religious. Never once did I invite a sister who didn't look and dress like a sister to give the vocations talk. Posted by: Fr_Richard
January 31, 2007 09:03 PM EST
I know I will be flamed for writing this but it is hard for me to take a nun or priest seriously that does not wear the habit or the colar. My first question to myself is why are they ashamed of what they chose to be? Would we take a police officer, a soldier or a fire fighter seriusly if he/she was in "civilian" clothes? Especially indignant ar the Hawiian shirts a group of Jesuit priests have taken to wearing near my town. Most people think it is a small thing but a young person needs to be fairly devout and orthodox, I think, to consider a vocation to religious life. Why would they go to a group of people who seem so conflicted about their beliefs that that they want to blend into the world our Lord told us we must reject in order to folow him? Posted by: dorrino
January 16, 2007 10:20 AM EST
I can beat the Hawaiian shirt story. My sister, a nurse, saw an order of nursing nuns at a Catholic hospital where she was attending a conference. They sported Bermuda shorts and wore wooden crosses, not crucifixes.

"I didn't take them seriously as nurses, let alone nuns. They looked completely ridiculous."
Posted by: Caroline
January 16, 2007 11:30 AM EST
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