Sisters making mainstream headlines

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We’ve all had days where we wanted to just go back to bed and start the day again. Check out what happened in England a few days ago. Now there’s a man in serious need of a do-over.

Eating his words?

I’m fairly certain that you’ll never hear this person bash Catholic education again, at least not on TV.

As reported by the Catholic Herald in the United Kingdom, education secretary Tristram Hunt angered a lot of folks with a comment he made last week on a talk show.

The backlash is being referred to as “nungate.” Here’s what happened.

Hunt, who favors compulsory sex education in public schools for British 5-year-olds, was a guest on a show along with journalist Cristina Odone, former editor of the Catholic Herald.

When Odone said that some of her “most inspiring” teachers had been ones who had not attended teacher training college, Hunt said, “These were all nuns, weren't they? “I know about your religious schooling and there's a difference, I think, between a state education system having qualified teachers in the classroom.”

People didn’t seem to know exactly what he meant by the comment but many didn’t like the tone of his voice and quickly objected on Twitter. Hunt later tried to mitigate the damage with his own tweet, saying he was trying “to make a generalized point about the use of unqualified teachers in schools.”

But it didn’t help.

And thus, we have our quote of the week, this tweet from Sr. Catherine Wybourne, aka @Digitalnun: “Poor Tristram Hunt. Think how much brighter he might be if he'd been taught by nuns. ;)”

She’s getting a lot of attention

New York media has been following Sr. Megan Rice, who is serving three years in a Brooklyn prison for painting peace slogans on walls of a nuclear power plant in Tennessee.

Last week NPR introduced her to its national audience. The 85-year-old nun is using her time behind bars to take up a new cause: conditions inside U.S. prisons.

Her imprisonment has merited a flurry of attention from advocates, including the National Association of Women Judges, according to NPR.

“It seems ridiculous to put somebody like that long-term on the ninth floor of a high-rise building,” said Brenda Murray, a federal administrative law judge who is following Rice’s case.

The high-rise prison, where 100 women share six bathrooms, is described by one of Rice’s friends as “a big cement box, huge.” Friends worry that the stay is taking a toll on Rice, who lost a cap off her front tooth but has not had it replaced. She reportedly carries it around in her pocket.

Her release date is set for November.

Throwing open the doors

The welcome mat is officially out in this “Year of Consecreated Life” and things got busy last weekend when convents across the United States invited the public in to visit.

Ten religious communities in Spokane, Washington, for instance, held open houses, according to KREM-TV there.

In Corpus Christi, Texas, the Pax Christi Sisters opened their home to the public for a rare look inside. The women showed visitors their library, their prayer room, even their living quarters.

In Oshkosh, Wisconcin, the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother invited the public inside their convent for the first time since it was built in 1989, reported WHBY radio.

Sr. Dorothy Dirkx told local media that she and her colleagues were simply heeding the Pope’s call to let people see how they live.

“He said open your doors. Invite in the outside. Invite in the laity to see the significance of religious life,” she told WBAY-TV.

An alum worth noting

We’re starting to wonder where Sr. Rosemary Nyirumbe keeps all these awards and honors.

Last year Nyirumbe, a member of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by TIME magazine.

This week her alma mater, Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania., also honored her for her humanitarian work in Uganda, where she runs St. Monica’s Girls Tailoring Center for young women rebuilding their lives in the strife-filled country. (Global Sisters Report wrote about the school in January and about Sr. Rosemary last April.)

Duquesne gave her an honorary doctorate of humane letters as part of its 2015 annual Founders Week celebration, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Nyirumbe is a Duquesne alum with a master’s degree in community leadership who took her classes through a special part-time program designed for women religious at the school’s campus in Rome.

Duquesne vice president, the Rev. Ray French, said the school’s mission is to “serve God by serving students so that they will serve others. [Nyirumbe] is the quintessential 21st century example of that.”

This week’s must-read

Set aside a few minutes to linger over this lengthy profile of 84-year-old Sr. Camella Menotti in Fort Worth Weekly.

What an intriguing life she’s had, growing up as a cowgirl in south Texas where in 1951 she won the Texas City Rodeo Queen competition.

She was so talented in the rodeo arena that she’s now nominated for Fort Worth’s National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame. She was still a rodeo queen when she decided more than 60 years ago to become a nun, joining the Sisters of St. Mary of Namur in Fort Worth.

[Lisa Gutierrez is a reporter in Kansas City, Mo., who scans the non-NCR news every week for interesting pieces about sisters. She can be reached at]