Honestly, no. I wish I had been able to reasonably say goodbye to the other Sisters. But I realize why they did it, and I didn't question their method. My Superior decided that was the best way, and out of obedience I followed. God works through religious obedience, and I believe He worked it out just fine. I had absolutely nothing when I left -- no college education, no funds, not even clothes to wear. Thankfully my mother was very supportive, and brought me some clothes to change into. My community was not obligated to give me anything, but they graciously gave me some funds albeit nothing astronomical or anything!
They are mendicants! It was a very kind, generous gesture and I am grateful they cared for me that way. Posted March 25, In my experiences of sisters leaving, it is different every time. It isn't as painful when a sister leaves as a postulant or a novice because that is the time to discern where God is calling the sister.
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It is always painful though for those in formation with a sister who leaves. Whenever it happens it makes each sister rethink everything about her vocation which is a difficult but necessary and healthy reaction to a sister leaving. When someone leaves after making vows it is more painful. It always seems unexpected, except probably to those sisters who live with her. As far as the physical leaving goes, now many sisters still keep in touch with community after they have left.
No matter what made them choose to leave most women realize that they received an education in life which they could never have received elsewhere.
It wouldn't be the education in life that tells how to balance a checkbook, but to love. This has been my experience in my community. I'm sure there are many different experiences though so I don't claim to speak for everyone. God bless you. Posted March 25, edited. I know this topic is a very personal and often painful one. But, your answer helps me better understand how this is handled. I'm pleased to hear that you weren't "shunned" when you left, and still keep in touch with your former Order.
Particularly among certain Protestants not ALL, by any means! So, it is very helpful to learn a little more of the "real story. I've lived long enough to have seen and experienced a lot. I have made enough mistakes of my own, that I am FINALLY starting to learn humility and to be less judgemental--as in "Give the benefit of the doubt whenever possible," and "Hate the sin, not the sinner. Thank-you again for your candor. Edited March 25, by IgnatiusofLoyola.
I found something similar when I got divorced. It wasn't so much that I was "shunned," as happens sometimes , but more that my divorce made other people uncomfortable because it made them think about their own marriages and raised fears that perhaps their marriages weren't as "safe" as they assumed. It was a reminder that sometimes circumstances happen over which we have no control and they can affect a marriage. Thanks for your response. I remember how we all felt when one of our number left. I am going back to pre V2 just , and there were 15 of us in our group.
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It was almost like someone had died, the novitiate was very quiet and almost sad for a day or two. All we were given was a very impersonal announcement from our Novice Mistress that 'Sister so and so had given up her vocation and returned to the world' - yes , those were the words that were used. I know things are very different now, but back then it was an unspoken rule that we did not mention that Sisters' name again in community. When I left, I went to Mass with the rest of the Novices at 7.
I knew I would not be allowed to say goodbye to any of my fellow Novices, and even tho' I knew the night before that I was going, I was expressly forbidden to tell anyone. Obedience was paramount!! I remember crying all the way home on the plane, and when I got off at the other end, the one thing I wanted to do was get back on the next plane and return, as by then I had convinced myself that I had made a mistake. Thankfully things are now very different, but back in the 60's it was all done under ' shroud of secrecy'.
I learned so many things while I was there, things I never would have learned elsewherenot only about the Catholic Faith, but about so many other aspects: cleaning Sisters' convents are immaculate! It shaped me into the woman I am today, and I am convinced my husband and I would not be together today had I not spent the time there that I had. I had this experience the first time I left the convent. I was at a Dominican convent, and I was made to lie to my other sisters when they told me they would see me later. I couldn't tell them I was leaving.
It sucked. IT was one of the worst things I have ever experienced in my life. I was shuffled around the Motherhouse under the shroud of secrecy as if I was a criminal. It was like, I was breaking out of prison or something with the help of the Superior The second time I entered a much more beautiful Dominican community, one where I felt our humanity was not sacrificed once we crossed the threshold of the Motherhouse.
When I came to the decision a second time around and decided to leave, the experience was very comforting as I was able to say goodbye to my beautiful sisters. I was able to express to this family of mine, that I loved them and how much I needed their prayers. I was able to tell them how much they meant to me, and how much I was going to miss them.
It was very heartbreaking, but there was closure, and the promise of life-long relationships remaining in tact, as I knew they would never forget me, as I would never forget them. They still spoke my name there, way past the time I left I wasn't some forbidden subject never to be talked about. Heck, I met one of the Sisters here in Austin, and she entered way after I had left, and she told me, "They still speak of you, and many of your Novitiate Sisters carry a picture of you from the newsletters in their prayer books!
Now that's how it should be done!. It seems like it would be very painful. Its painful for me to even think about. Now that's how it should be done! It really makes me glad to hear that there are communities that do that. I do not wish to be uncharitable or negative in anything that I am about to say, so I beg, please do not take it as a way of "getting even" or throwing myself a "pity party".
In no way do I intend to do either of those. Instead, I just wanted to share what I experienced in a very honest way. My experience leaving formation was.. When it was finally decided when I would be leaving formation, I had thought it would be okay to tell the Sisters closest to me, to ask for their prayers, and to give some kind of closure. After all, when one of my fellow classmates left, she told me that she was leaving and I was so grateful to have that closure, and to know that she was okay and at peace, you know? She was someone I was very close to, and I think had she just disappeared one day I wanted to my Sisters to know that I, too, was at peace and would be okay.
The conversation that followed was one that I shall never forgot. Basically, my superior said, "How could you not know not to say anything?
You cannot trust your own judgment! If you hadn't said anything, we could have saved your glory. If asked, I would remain silent. There was such coldness. Those words burned into my very soul and cut deep. I felt pretty destroyed after that I believed everything she said even though I didn't understand how they could be true -- I believed her because she was my superior and in turn, I hated myself for all those "reasons". Both of my parents grew up in coal-mining towns in southeastern Pennsylvania. Both came from working-class Catholic neighborhoods you could only escape by going to college or joining the church.
My dad was the eldest of four boys and the most serious and studious, a young man of deep intelligence who found comfort and solace in letters and numbers. A local priest noticed his gifts and decided to help him apply to North American College, an exclusive university in Rome for novice priests. For my dad, it was a golden ticket out of Swoyersville and into another world, one that encouraged the exchange of ideas among men of all walks of life. Her father was an alcoholic, and she spent some nights wandering the pubs of Mildred, Pennsylvania, with her sisters in tow, searching for the man who was supposed to bring home dinner.
The convent offered a warm and mysterious shelter from the storms of her family life. She joined the convent right out of high school, at age I turned 33 this past January, and I was overcome with a sense of arriving at a crossroads. I wanted, again, to ask my parents what I should do next: find a woman and settle down, start a family, change careers, keep my stable job, move to Asia and teach.
Instead, while my dad was visiting L. Over brunch in Venice, I asked why he chose my mom out of all the women back in Scranton. He took a bite of his toast and chewed methodically, pausing as always before speaking. His brow furrowed, and he dove into the story of how they met.
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They were both teaching at St. Paul High School in Scranton.
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It was They crossed paths for a year or two. They started talking about the changes in the church, in society, in the world. He was attracted to her instantly, but he had been through that test with women before and had always passed. As he got to know her, though, he felt something different. She was smart and funny, and I think she understood me. One day I looked her in the eye and told her I was going to marry her.
She describes a man so passionate and persuasive about his beliefs that he seemed almost revolutionary. He sparked in her a desire to call into question the structure they both had spent the better part of their lives adhering to faithfully. My father was known as a rebel within the church; he was often visited by a particularly zealous bishop who warned him not to stir the pot.
Instead, he joined the cause of the Berrigan brothers, an Irish-Catholic Jesuit priest and his brother who were imprisoned for their involvement with protests against the Vietnam War. When that attraction reached a breaking point, my mom visited the Mother Superior, the head of the nuns in her order of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and told her she was leaving. My mother says it was like a knife to her heart. Instead of going through the channels of laicization that a priest needs to be fully relieved of his duties and to become a layperson, my father went home to Swoyersville and waited for my mother.
She left the parish under the guise of night. They moved into an apartment in Delaware, and my mother took a teaching job at a public high school in Newark while my father applied to be a social worker at a prison in Smyrna. My mom says they had already committed the biggest sin of all in leaving the church together, so living together before marriage was an afterthought.