So, What Happened to the Teacher Nuns?

(Please note: I have received a couple of questions recently and am taking a break from the normal reflections inspired by daily life to address them.)

IMG_0552I was raised Catholic, 12 years of Catholic school, but wandered off in the 60s. Just to be clear, I never lost my faith and never thought of myself as anything other than Catholic. I loved the nuns…okay I was definitely afraid of some of them, but received a good education and reinforcement of the type of life taught to me at home.

I came back to the faith full time about 20 years ago.  I’m 68, so I missed the 2nd Vatican Council changes or its impact until my return.  So, what happened to the teacher nuns; where did they go? It seems to me we are diminished by their loss. I know our sisters are still doing great work in the world but I don’t see them in our schools.  

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Not having been around in the era immediately following the Council, I have a limited perspective on this, but I will attempt to answer your questions.  I don’t mean to over-simplify a complicated issue, but I hope the following thoughts are helpful to you.

Earlier in the 20th century, there was a vocation boom, with many young people entering seminaries and convents.  However, in  the cultural turmoil and changes that occurred, religious life was hit hard.

I hesitate to blame everything on ‘Vatican II,’ as some people tend to do.  I didn’t live through it, but I’ve studied American history…A lot went on during that time (civil rights movement, war protests, sexual revolution, etc.)  That all being said, the number of young women entering convents went down drastically.  Also, many sisters left religious life.  The decreased number of Sisters has contributed significantly to the lack of viability of Sisters in ‘our Catholic schools.’

Another issue I would mention is the fact that many religious no longer where their religious garb.  If Sisters are not dressed in a recognizable manner, you will not notice them even if they are in the school setting.

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Please join us in asking the Master of the Harvest to send laborers into His vineyard!


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