Saturday, August 23, 2008


If you have a desire to support women religious in the Catholic Church but don't want to lend economic assistance to women's ordination, and don't know of an order that isn't behind that and other liberal movements, consider supporting an order described in a Wall Street Journal article sent in by a reader:

The same weekend as the "ordinations," I joined 30 fellow lay Catholics gathered in Birmingham, Ala., for a sold-out retreat at the Casa Maria convent. The retreat is run by a group of Dominican-Franciscan (they follow both saintly models) religious sisters. Now in their 18th year as an order, the Sister Servants of the Eternal Word are as far away as one can imagine from that scene in Boston.

"As an active woman religious working in the field of retreats and catechesis in the Bible Belt South, I have to say that I am far too busy . . . to feel slighted by the fact that the priesthood is not open to women," insists Sister Louise Marie, a member of the order. She suggests that if Catholics and non-Catholics understood what a "powerful role women religious have," they would never "feel sorry for [us]."

The Sister Servants, like many relatively new orders, are filled with young, orthodox enthusiasts. The nearby cloistered Poor Clare Nuns of Perpetual Adoration, seen on the Catholic Eternal Word Television Network, have a waiting list of young women wanting to join. Whenever they get more space, "there's always someone right around the corner waiting to move in," says Sister Marie St. John, speaking for the group. Most of the new orders are members not of the notoriously liberal Leadership Conference of Women Religious but of the newer, more strict Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious. Their energy appears a personification of "the New Pentecost" that Pope Benedict XVI talks about, calling on faithful Catholics to be apostles in the modern world.

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