Penny: Alright, remember when I auditioned for that workshop production of Rent, but I didn’t get it and I couldn’t figure out why?
Sheldon: I have a conclusion based on an observation.
Leonard: No you don’t. No he doesn’t.
Penny: Well, the girl they picked to play Mimi, she dropped out and they asked me to replace her.
Leonard: Oh, congratulations, what a lucky break.
Penny: It’s not a big deal, just a one night showcase, but they invite a lot of casting people and agents so, you never know.
Sheldon: I think I know.
The Big Bang Theory, The Loobenfeld Decay 2008
This morning while I was having breakfast at a Karen Polito event in Leominster I noticed this story from the Catholic Free Press concerning an order of Religious Sisters in Springfield:
Sister Maxyne D. Schneider, president of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Springfield, has announced the signing of a purchase and sale agreement for their 52-acre Mont Marie campus in Holyoke. Completion of the sale, which includes the Mont Marie Health Care Center, is expected this fall.
If you read the piece you will find some dry analysis as to why the nuns couldn’t hold onto the property they had since before I was born, but all the explanation you need is kindly provided by this photograph I took of the image that graces the article.If all you saw was that picture and nothing else how would you caption it? Would you have any idea that this story involved an order of Catholic Nuns?
You see in the mid 60’s when I was not yet walking there were over 1000 Sisters of St. Joseph in that area, but then, as explained in the orders’ “our history” page, something happened:
Then following the Second Vatican Council, the Sisters restructured their community life. Many moved out of convents and into small houses and apartments in local towns and cities.
And as they left their communities they shed their habits and eventually even an abbreviated veil became indistinguishable from any other social worker or teacher that a person might see.
Oddly enough once they abandoned the trappings of the faith somehow young women abandoned them:
The congregation, which numbers some 238 women, whose median age is 76, has been in talks with contractors to possibly develop more low-income housing on the site.
In fact according to an article not online the youngest woman in the order is 57 years old. That’s six years older than me.
And along with the lack of young sisters to sustain the order the money dried up as well.
Now I’m certainly not going to question a single one of their vocations, but let’s contrast their situation with the Sister Servants of the Eternal Word in Alabama. Their median age is not only younger than me, when I visited them I met women young enough to be my children both discerning vocations and active as nuns.
Take a look at the images in their “about us” page and see if you can draw a conclusion based on an observation as to why one order is dying out and the other is not.