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Sisters' Stories

Teaching a chicken to walk backwards

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On the season finale last year of ABC's hit drama "Lost," alert viewers would have noticed that the mysterious character, Jacob (Mark Pellegrino), was reading the book Everything That Rises Must Converge. The tome is a collection of short stories by the American Catholic novelist, Flannery O'Connor who was born in Savannah, Ga. March 25, 1925 and died from lupus in Milledgeville, Ga., outside of Atlanta in 1964.

The book's title story is about an arrogant young man, Julian, whose bigoted mother cajoles him into accompanying her downtown to her weight loss class because it is evening and she doesn't want to go alone in the newly integrated South. Things become tense when an African-American mother and son get on the bus, the mother wearing the exact same outlandish purple hat as Julian's mother. Julian tries to teach his mother a lesson that the world is different now and she must change. His meanness results in tragedy and he races for help for his mother who collapses. O'Connor ends the tale with, "The tide of darkness seemed to sweep him back to her, postponing from moment to moment his entry into the world of guilt and sorrow."

Cincinnati bishop among sponsors to pull support from women's conference

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Reacting to complaints by antiabortion activists that a keynote speaker at a “violence against women” conference was pro-choice, Cincinnati Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr and other sponsors this month withdrew support for the gathering, planned in part by the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati.

Their actions forced organizers to rescind an invitation to Charlotte Bunch, founding director and senior scholar of the Center for Women’s Global Leadership at Rutgers University in New Jersey and a consultant to the United Nations. She was replaced at the April 24 gathering by Charity Sr. Caroljean Willie, the order’s U.N. representative.

Charity Sr. Patricia A. Cruise, president of Cincinnati’s Seton High School, where the gathering was held, had also notified conference organizers that they would need to change venues were Bunch to be kept on the program.

After the invitation to Bunch was rescinded, the conference went on at the high school as planned. However, despite the speaker change, the archdiocese refused to renew its support.

Church 'has silenced women's rights debate'

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QUEZON CITY, Philippines — The church's catechism opposing the Reproductive Health Bill, which is now before Congress, has silenced election candidates on women's rights, a leading advocate of the proposed law says.

Politicians seem to have "all meekly acquiesced to the dictates" of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life, which issued the "Catechism on Family and Life" for the 2010 elections, former Health Secretary Alberto Romualdez said. National, provincial and local elections will be held nationwide May 10.

Mother Millea speaks about the visitation

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A little over a year ago, Mother Mary Clare Millea became the most talked-about nun in America almost overnight. In December 2008, the Vatican tapped Millea, a Connecticut native and superior general of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, to run arguably the most controversial "apostolic visitation" ever carried out in this country: A sweeping review of women's congregations, capping decades of tension about the state of the soul of religious life in America.

Sometime in the next few days, the first wave of letters will be reaching a sample of women's orders to say they've been selected for an on-site visit, with those visits slated to begin one week after Easter and to continue throughout the spring and fall of 2010. The visits mark "phase three" of the process, after exchanges between Millea and major superiors (phase one) and the collection of written responses to questionnaires sent to every congregation in the country (phase two).

The fourth and final phase will be the preparation of detailed reports on all 420 "units" of women's religious in America, meaning congregations as well as their individual provinces, to be shipped off to Rome, plus a comprehensive report at the end. What the Vatican may do with all that input, of course, is the great unknown.

Contours of the daily and domestic

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My life has been largely spent at home, caring for my family. It is a small world, but a rich and complex one, for all its short distances from stove to bed and bathtub to couch. Perhaps that is why I am drawn to these writers -- they are women -- who observe the contours and appreciate the significance of the daily and the domestic.

Anne Tyler’s characters rarely leave Baltimore, or even the houses where they were raised. In Tyler’s novels, the houses, like the city itself, become characters in the narrative. Those who do leave home remain bound by the ties, both glorious and grim, of place and blood and story. When elderly Daniel Peck begins to travel, in Tyler’s Searching for Caleb, it is not because there is any site outside Baltimore worth exploring. He’s looking for his brother, Caleb, who disappeared from their Roland Park home one day in 1912 leaving “no trace except for a bedroom full of hollow, ringing musical instruments and a roll-top desk with an empty whiskey bottle in the bottom drawer.”

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September 12-25, 2014

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