Women are magic

Hello, all! This week, I’m writing from Marywood University, where (in addition to talking about natural hair and plotting a self-guided tour of landmarks from “The Office”) I’m hanging out at the decennial meeting of the Oblate Sisters of Providence and the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

The festivities began Sunday night with a welcome from Marywood University president and Immaculate Heart of Mary Sr. Anne Munley who explained how the story of the university parallels the shared story of the Oblate and Immaculate Heart of Mary sisters. I was taking notes, but as she chronicled the history of sister after sister who had bucked tradition – for example, by sending younger sisters to study at Harvard when Catholic institutions wouldn’t accept women, or refusing to call a school an academy instead of seminary – I stopped taking notes and just scribbled “feminist iconoclasts” at the top of my notebook.

The 600 sisters and associates in attendance were equally impressed. They oohed, aahhed and laughed as Munley shared these tales, and I started thinking about the ways the broader demographic of women religious has been able to push against structural injustice. So, naturally, I was thrilled to read Avila University professor Carol Coburn’s latest piece for Global Sisters Report yesterday, which touches on that very theme.

If you have yet to read Coburn’s column, you should probably stop reading this and go read that. It’s an examination of the way Catholic sisters have interacted with clerical authority throughout history, and it’s pretty stellar – as anyone who has already read it could probably tell you. Basically, as lady journo extraordinaire Jazmine Hughes once said (okay, okay. As she said six months ago): women are magic.

On a related note, our friends from A Nun’s Life (Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters from Monroe, Mich., you may recall) are here at Marywood, and they’re doing all sorts of technological magic, including livestreaming all the conference speakers and simultaneously hosting a live chatroom to extend the discussion. If you’re interested in the conference happenings or even if you’re just nosy, check it out!

[Dawn Cherie Araujo is staff writer for Global Sisters Report, based in Kansas City, Missouri. Follow her on Twitter @dawn_cherie]