Given the recent spotlight on Catholic Sisters due to the two Vatican investigations, and in particular the hierarchy's criticism of the Sisters' collective focus on social justice issues that impact people who are poor rather than other social issues, it's interesting that the filmmaker decided to focus her story line on the Sisters' faithful response to Vatican II and their creative work for social justice. She's spent the past 8 years immersing herself in the world of Catholic Sisters. Not only is the end result an obvious labor of love, I also recognized the contemporary face of religious life that I committed my life to in the film.
|Julie Viera in the film|
|Mercy Sisters Pat Murphy |
& JoAnn Persch
There are many familiar-to-me faces in the film. Sisters Margaret Brennan and Theresa Kane, both past presidents of LCWR, give context and stories from their personal experience that also touch on the collective experience of women religious in the past 50 years. Sisters Nancy Sylvester and Carol Coston tell the story of the beginning of NETWORK, the group that put on the Nuns on the Bus tour this summer. Sister Miriam Therese MacGillis of Genesis Farm and Sister Elise Garcia of Santuario Sisterfarm introduce viewers to the universe story and the Sisters' ecological ministry with the people of God and all of creation. There are other Sisters too, not known to me, who share their experience as part of this band of Sisters.
In the end, it is one of the best, wholistic depictions of contemporary American religious life that I have seen intended for a general audience. Our truth is reflected in a respectful and celebratory way. In the Q&A, one audience member commented that the film was inspiring, and the story and witness of the Sisters made him pause and reflect on how he was responding to God's call to make the world a better place. If the film comes to your City or town, definitely go see it. The filmmaker is also happy to hear from folks who are interesting in hosting or helping to organize a screening.
Perhaps the best part of the evening from my perspective was the connections that I made at the end. During the Q&A, one of the audience members, noting that most of the Sisters in the film were near retirement age, wondered what the filmmaker thought about young women entering religious life today. She responded as I mentioned above that the focus of the story is the response to Vatican II, and so therefore that mandated that the women highlighted would be older Sisters who experienced the renewal first hand. But she did mention that this is why she chose to begin with the "podcast Sisters," to show that this way of life is continuing. She also gave a pretty decent layperson's analysis that younger women entering today are in smaller numbers in each community, and so they need to be creative about building connections across communities and use the internet and technology to facilitate those connections. I saw some of my friends in our row of young nuns nodding our head to her assessment.
|GV Sisters at Band of Sisters|
It was a perfect end to my evening on the town with my band of GV Sisters to see Band of Sisters.