American Women, American Nuns

With guest host John Donvan

We’ll talk with three young career women who have made the choice of their lives and found their calling—as nuns.

Nuns gather in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Saturday, April 26, 2014. Pilgrims and faithful are gathering in Rome to attend Sunday's ceremony at the Vatican where Pope Francis will elevate in a solemn ceremony John XXIII and John Paul II to sainthood. (AP)

Nuns gather in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, Saturday, April 26, 2014. Pilgrims and faithful are gathering in Rome to attend Sunday’s ceremony at the Vatican where Pope Francis will elevate in a solemn ceremony John XXIII and John Paul II to sainthood. (AP)

For those few women who do it — it’s not a job, exactly — and it’s much bigger than a lifestyle choice. But those few who do hear the call can’t help but say yes. They become nuns. But the women joining the sisterhood today are not your grandma’s novices. Some came from jobs in the corporate world. They’re networked and networkers. They had other options. Who are these women in today’s America who choose to take the triple vow: of chastity, obedience and poverty? This hour On Point: the modern American nun — what is she thinking?

– John Donvan


Sister Josephine Garrett, novice with the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth.

Sister Colleen Gibson, novice at the Sisters of St. Joseph. Global Sisters Report columnist for the National Catholic Reporter.

Danielle Gagnon, a novice-elect at the Sisters of Mercy.

Sister Patricia Dowling, vocation director at the Sisters of the Bon Secours.

From The Reading List

The Atlantic: Why Would a Millennial Become a Priest or a Nun? — “The number of young people entering religious life in the United States is on a steep decline. Mark Gray, a researcher at the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), explained that the number of men who start out at seminary and continue on to get ordained as priests has decreased dramatically over the last 45 years. Gray described this process — deciding to enter religious life, going through seminary, and, finally, getting ordained — as a sharp funnel that’s getting sharper all the time. ”

Huffington Post: Mary Beth Baker Really Wants To Be A Nun – But Her Student Loans Are Keeping Her Out Of The Convent — “There’s only one thing standing between Mary Beth Baker and the convent of theDominican Sisters of St. Cecilia in Nashville, Tenn. — and it’s $25,000.”

Global Sisters Report: Party of one — “I began my two-year novitiate with the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Philadelphia in the fall of 2012. That beginning meant the end of many things. At the age of 26, it meant leaving behind my major possessions, relinquishing access to my personal savings and leaving my job ministering at an inner-city parish’s community center.”

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