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Public Witness?

August 1, 2010

By Sister Michelle

We had Assembly for our South Central Community in July.  one of the fun things was the “Mercy Marketplace” where we could purchase things with Mercy symbols, or logos and or things made by Mercies.  I sprung for FIVE shirts with “Sisters of Mercy” and our Institute Cross on them.  They fit this time!  Three Polo Shirts and two Poplin in bright colors.  (there were some shirts at the last Assembly that were Men’s sizes and my shape doesn’t work with those) It was so good to be together, discussing issues that matter.  I was happy to have something with which to be “identified” with this group of joyful and generous Christ centered women.

I won’t be wearing them at work.  As a clinical social worker doing counseling, it is  important not to announce too much personal information that is not directly helpful to the client.  I will wear them in my off time.  So far no one I’ve run into has made any mention of it whether they knew already that I was a nun or they didn’t.

Our life nowadays is not as public (about “being a nun”) as it was in the ’50s.  With fewer of us in the age range for active ministry we are spread much thinner.  Our lifestyles don’t follow a monastic schedule, we wear our Mercy Cross and Ring but not a ‘habit’ and we don’t all work in the same institution nor live in the same group home.   Still there is something about the “public” nature of my vows, my special commitment within the Church that seems important to me and some of my lay friends speak of it too.  Many times strangers assume I am a Sister.  I hope it’s more than the short hair and orthopedic shoes!

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