Friday, August 06, 2010

Nuns on TV


I once had a conversation with Mother Assumpta Long. And she looked through me, who thinks of myself as pretty comfortably opaque, as though I were made of glass.

She asked me some questions about my life that indicated that she knew instantly things about me that I didn't want anyone to know.

She's a power. I don't like the thing she's created. That order of cheerleaders gives me the screaming heebie jeebies for many reasons. I had a rather bad experience and left a vocations retreat of theirs, that was supposed to have been three days long, after fewer than 24 hours, though I had already been invited to apply.

But the woman who started the thing is a power.

It's not often I meet someone who has bigger and scarier mind powers than I.



BillyHW said...

You secretly listen to NPR, don't you?

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

Oh William, this is why you have privileges here that no one else has.

John J said...

By all accounts this order is one of the best things that has happened to the Catholic Church in the U.S. in a loooong time. Too bad it gives you the heebie-jeebies. I've got a number of friends in the order and groups of Christendom College students regularly visit. Every single person that I've spoken to (including my wife) speaks of the order with the highest terms of praise. The order draws in so many young, orthodox Catholics that it may have a high level of energy and enthusiasm, but I'd hardly disparage that with the term "cheerleader." Do you have anything specific against the order?

Zach said...

So... we won't be seeing you back in Ann Arbor anytime soon?

Pity - you could probably persuade Dale and I to buy you drinks...


Hilary Jane Margaret White said...


nothing that I'm willing to say in public.

John J said...

Well, for the record, it seems more than a little unfair and counterproductive to insinuate evils on what many very, very good Catholics consider one of the most hopeful signs of a rebirth in the U.S. Catholic Church, and then to be unwilling to back up the insinuations with any facts.

However, I do confess that I originally thought these remarks were aimed at the Dominican Sisters of Nashville - and it is this community that friends of mine belong to and not the one in Ann Arbor. Nevertheless, the Dominican Sisters in Ann Arbor are generally viewed as pretty much the sister community of the Nashville sisters, in terms of their charism, youth, orthodoxy, etc. So my concerns and previous statements can pretty much stand without amendment, except to clarify that I don't have friends in the Ann Arbor community.

Mark said...

you know that disconcerting feeling one gets around someone who seems a little over the top upbeat, preppy, and puts on that "I'm-happy-and-enthusiastic-all-the-time!" persona to the point of it being kind of...unsettling? Is that the kind of heebie jeebies you're getting from the order?

John J said...

@Mark - As mentioned above, when the average age of your order is somewhere in the very low 20s, and the people you're attracting are madly in love with the faith, and you're not a contemplative, but an active teaching order, you're bound to end up with an order that has quite a bit of energy and enthusiasm. If that inspires the heebie-jeebies...well...that's too bad I guess.

Fr. Hair-tonic said...

I don't want to start a pointless argument, since those who like Mother Assumpta's order are unlikely to change their minds; but having visited Ann Arbor, I concur with Hilary.

I could provide a list of all the warning signs, but I will limit it to this: The Dominican Sisters of Mary are the female equivalent of the Legionaries of Christ. Make of that what you will.

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...


Could you please send me a note by email? I've lost your email address...

John J said...

@Father - Except that Hilary does note that the founder of the order is a "power," meaning, I suppose, that she is not a serial pedophile with an insatiable lust for power, but rather is, perhaps, a saint. I think that, if Hilary's analysis of Mother Assumpta Long is correct, then that would mark quite a big difference between the two orders.

That being said, I confess that I simply cannot appeal to the sort of personal knowledge that you and Hilary profess, and thus am unable to stand by my judgment of the order. My judgment is second-hand, from many of those whom I respect the most - whose judgment may, of course, be incorrect, as many people's judgment about Fr. Maciel and the Legionaries was incorrect. Nevertheless, I think that my main point does stand, and that is that it is counterproductive to hint at unnamed evils with the order, and to apply names like "cheerleaders," without giving reasons for doing so. That simply foments a general suspicion that I don't think does any good in the long run.

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...


it's not an analysis. It's an expression of gut feeling.

Fr. Hair-Tonic said...


I hadn't thought anyone would interpret what I said that way, since I compared the Sisters to the Legionaries, not Mother Assumpta to Fr Maciel.

However, in the interest of clearing up the aspersions you allege, no, I do not think Mother Assumpta has any moral issues of the sort.

Felix said...

to lower the tone, I do hope that the Nashville Sisters weare Levis and play country western ...

Fr. John Mary, ISJ said...

I want to thank you for your honesty and your absolute "fiestiness":<)!
Rorate Caeli's post about you sent me here;
I couldn't agree more with your fact, I caught my breath, thinking, "Can this be true?"
Very, very similar observations (and I haven't set foot near the place).
I'd be crucified if I ever said anything to anybody whom I didn't trust (so I'm writing it here???STUPID?)
Having 100 Sisters in ten years is a problem for me; I'm founding a contemplative/new form of consecrated life and yeah, we're "the losers" in the bunch (I'm not at all sorry about that...we live in "nazareth"...losers are welcome!!).
Anway; the whole thing gives me the heebies, as well.
I'm Anglo-Irish, American, but with enough whatever from my Mum's side (sixth sense?) that whatever looks too good, is probably not so good all the way through.
I'm a little concerned about the Wyoming Carmelites as well...not jealous; really; I'm just wondering what the hell is going on there? (Charism, please?)
Okay, I've said enough.
Miss White, you do great writing.
I loved your interview with "The Remnant" (and I'm not exactly "on page" with EVERYTHING there, but I'm glad they're there!)
God bless you!
Mary keep you!
My prayers and blessing. Fr John Mary, ISJ