With Title IX and Ms. Magazine both recently celebrating 40 years, it got us thinking about choices, and the choices that women have had the opportunity to make since these milestone life-changing events. There’s no question that we have more opportunities presented to us than ever before, but it is the choices that we make, which end up defining who we are and what we become. Recently, when we watched the OWN Network’s Lisa Ling show Our America – Brides of Christ episode, our eyes were opened to a world of women making choices that defy the vast opportunities our modern world offers us, giving it all up in the name of God.
This episode explores the world of American nuns. Lisa Ling introduces us two new postulants, a former nun and an active sister. Some have chosen to live a restrictive life with hours of silence and prayer, while others are serving God by serving their communities. We get an inside look at the lives of these women – we see their faith, struggles, fear and joy, and discover what draws them to and from this extreme lifestyle. Not surprisingly, fewer women are choosing to become nuns. Statistics show that in the last 50 years, the number of nuns in America has dropped more than two-thirds, but there are still those few making this radical choice.
We meet Sister Margaret Farrell, who works with troubled youth with Covenant House; there’s Marillis, a 22-year-old woman who recently graduated college, but seeks the convent life; Carmelite Sister Thien, who openly discusses the challenges of becoming a nun; and former nun, Linda Pestana, who made the choice to leave the order after 25 years in religious life. It’s a fascinating journey to watch.
What we learn from these women is that they are exercising their own freewill and making choices for themselves that keep them on a path to fulfilling their lifelong dreams. By making these choices that we ourselves would never even consider, or for that matter come to understand, we can only admire their bravery – the same bravery that our foremothers demonstrated forty years ago while fighting tirelessly for the abundance of choices we have today.