Public Face on Young Nundom

I'm starting late this morning after a marathon day yesterday--at least for my introverted self.  Somehow I managed to overschedule my day so that I had not one, not two, but three presentations on human trafficking.  Two of them were the shorter after-mass-informational-talk variety at the Cathedral parish.  The third was a longer youth group evening at a suburban parish with about 40 Junior & High School students.  Talk about energy!  Both my energy, used in engaging large groups of people and the kids' energy, which was just bubbling up and out.

It was all good.  I appreciated the opportunity to share a bit of the global and local reality of human trafficking, ask some questions as to what allows it to happen, look at the role of demand through the lens of Catholic Social Teaching and then talk about ways we can take action.  With the kids we actually took action, writing letters to chain stores and clothing manufacturers asking them what their policies are to eradicate slavery from their supply chain.  (You can send similar emails to all your favorite brands if you are so moved at chainstorereaction.com by the way).

Aside from the importance of the topic, after three years of giving presentations on a fairly regular basis on a variety of topics--from peacemaking to care for creation to immigration--I'm also realizing something else.  In addition to whatever the important justice topic is that I'm bringing to parishes or schools, I'm also an ambassador of young nundom.  Yes, we do still exist, and yes what we do still matters and yes, we're even happy while doing so.

This came home especially to me yesterday.  There's this odd twinkle in the eye of people, usually middle aged folks who were taught by Sisters but don't interact with them much anymore, when they see a younger Sister like myself. Then of course there's usually the surface level curiosity and questions.  Where do you live (in a real convent?).  What about the habit (which of course I'm not wearing, although I do dress simply and conservatively for presentations).  You can tell there are oodles of other questions simmering underneath the level of what they think it's appropriate to ask.

Yesterday one of the gentleman at my first presentation came up to me at the end.  He introduced himself.  Thanked me for the presentation.  And then leaned in and said, "Nice habit Sister."  I looked down.  I was wearing a lot of black--black pants, grey top, black sweater.  Not sure if he was joking, complimenting me on my modern nun attire, or thought it was actually the new habit.  In any case, I said, "Thank You" and smiled.

With kids, it's different.  For the most part they have never seen a Sister other than Whoopi Goldberg on reruns of Sister Act, which come to think of it is probably older than they are anyway.  When the youth minister introduced me last night, she said very dramatically ... "Believe it or not, she's a NUN."  Looking out at the group, their eyes got a little bigger and the ones who weren't really paying attention looked up.  There was one boy, I kid you not, who said very loudly and seriously ... "Woah."

How do you follow that?  In my case, I went with the moment and said "Yeah, .... woah."  I proceeded to tell them a bit about me and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace before launching into the topic of the evening.

All in all it was a great if tiring day.  Now it's time to find some coffee and get ready for another marathon day!  After I finally make it into work for my delayed start, it's off to my theology class tonight.  Oh, the life of the modern nun.

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