The Nun Files: Part Two

Part two of the transcription/interview.

SM: So if she - the baby's OK I'll look into it. I didn't know how, but I would try to. Anyway I walked in the next morning to see how the baby was when I first reported in to work and she passed me the baby and the baby's bouncing and smiling. And then she said “Here” and she gives me this piece of paper with the telephone number on it (laughter) and that was all [unintelligible phrase]

SG: [unintelligible phrase] (laughter)

SM: So I called and she said “Is there any sister in particular that you know well?” And I said “Well, I had - I could have said Sister Holsteier, but I - the one I thought was Sister Mary James because she had -was actually the last teacher, homeroom teacher I had, and she had been encouraging me to, you know, pray. And then she had been praying for me so I asked for her. So I went - we didn't have a phone - and went to the back of this little store which was probably no bigger than this kitchen and well, maybe extends back to the rest of the house. But back of the store there was a payphone so I put in the dime and called and I could hear the singing in the background and somebody got the Sister to come to the phone. And she -it was the end of a procession they had for the Feast of the Assumption - it was actually the Assumption when I called. And - that feast and she said “Oh, we we just finished mass.” She said “And the sisters are processing out and they -and the Sister that answered the phone grabbed me on the way out.” And she said “Oh,” she said, “I'll -I'll make an appointment. Call me at this time tomorrow and I'll have an appointment for you.” So she - she made the arrangement and I called her at the exactly that time so she was near the phone and she made the appointment and two weeks later I was in the convent. I went for the interview and they gave me a list of what I needed. Sister Denise took care of - she got the trunk for me, got everything in it, and the trunk was at the place when I got there. (laughter)

SG: Wow.

SM: (Laughter) They really wanted me. She did that - Sister Alto said they had been making an novena to Saint Joseph because they hadn't been getting very many vocations. And she said “You were the start, the first answer in that,” but they ended up being twelve of us by the time I entered that week- two weeks later. There were twelve that entered with me and that was the (partilant ?) that year and that extend -that was probably about nine months. And then we had two years initiate we would - were received so we had actually as a (partilant ?) we wore black dress with a -not a veil like this, but we had a veil a thin veil like a wedding veil but black. Or like a first communion veil, not as elaborate as a wedding veil, but a black simple veil. And then as a novice, we had -well more like that picture of Mother McAuley (points at picture on the wall) that they we have the actual habit. We would receive the habit, but it - we had a white veil. If we went out, we would have a black one over the white veil just so that we wouldn't stand out - if we had to go like to a doctor's appointment. Otherwise you didn't go out anyway as a novice unless it was an emergency -or a doctor's appointment or something.

SG: Yeah. So... have you ever actually lived in a full time convent?

SM: This is a convent. (laughter)

SG: Let me rephrase that. Have you actually lived in one with lots of sisters?

SM: Yes. Well that's -that mother house in Portland. Oh yeah, we had probably up to two hundred there and then our smaller missions we've had up to thirteen. In Augusta- my first assignment was in Augusta - and my - actually first convent that I lived in after the mother house was in Biddiford. And when I did my practice teaching - I think there were about nine or ten sisters there and including myself, but I was there as an - actually they didn't have a bedroom for me. I slept up in the attic with the bats (laughter) which I did more for the room so it didn't matter. But my bedroom was like on this end of the attic and the bathroom was the other end of the -and to go through there I always put something on my head cause I was -I did have the fear that if they got my hair -if they get stuck then (laughter) they would. So I always put something on my head, but other than that I didn't fear them. (laughter)

SG: Wow.

SM: No.

SG: So in your practice what particular spiritual practice is the most important to you and why?

SM: It's still Eucharist. Yeah. That's what -because its, its both life giving- I mean it's the life giving power of the Catholic church to me. The, the second most important would be the 'Liturgy of the Hours'. There are two forms of prayer that are important in church - the Eucharist which is the mass in where you receive the communion. And then the Liturgy of the Hours which is the - those two are the official prayers of the church. And that the liturgy of the hours and -for us developed in various ways because we used to say the 'Little Office of the Blessed Virgin' and we - when I first entered it was chanted in Latin and remember I told you I didn't have a good voice. The Reverend Mother soon discovered that because I when it was my turn to chant she stood with me – Oh, trying to get me to get this tone or that tone and it didn't work so she finally gave up on me. (laughter) So I didn't have to do that, but sometimes we would just recite it in English and then I could -she'd say “Well, tomorrow we'll just recite it.” (laughter) That was so that I could have a chance to do that position, but it couldn't -

SG: That's (laughter) [unintelligible phrase]

SM: - but they couldn't change that. I did chant with them -with someone on either side doing it, I was OK. But they - the best friend of the Reverend Mother was the musician and she played the organ. And she -anytime a new group came in, she would cast each one of them and myself and my best friend that entered were declared tone deaf and we were supposed to pantomime. Well now, the set up of the church is not the way it is now, but they had two rows that faced each other so that we - the voices would reverberate back and forth. It was really a monastic type of setting. I don't know if you have ever seen it, but - and so we would sit on the top part of the (choser ?) bench and you'd sit on that facing. I lost where I was going with that. (laughter) I'm sorry.

SG: No, no. (laughter) It's OK we were -we were actually talking-

SM: Well the, the -

SG: We started talking -

SM: What was important I know -

SG: Yeah.

SM: I'm sorry.

SG: No, no. That's OK. (laughter)

SM: If I think of it later.

SG: We'll come back. (laughter)

SM: There was something I was going with that though. If I think of it, I'll tell you.

SG: So what does the typical day look for you - look like for you?

Well, I always begin with prayer. This last month I have been ill so I have it hasn’t been typical at all. And actually this morning, like I said, I overslept but - but normally I'm up, up about 4:30 and I have at least an hour of prayer. And then that bag right behind you is my swim bag and doctor's orders is to get some exercise and swimming is the best, so I would go to the pool and swim. And then come back, change into this habit, and go to mass at 8:30. That's the normal thing here and then from nine o'clock on that's my work day more or less. And that's when the phone calls would come and then there would be prayers at noontime. Meals are considered a part of our spiritual life as well and then then would be evening prayer and mostly for me if - I watched TV or I usually get movies that are wholesome. I have - get the net-flicks for myself right now. Back in our early days, we didn't have television - the first time I ever saw television was when Kennedy died. (laughter)

SG: (laughter)

SM: They, they hauled in a TV and had it on the stage and we end - connected with our building was the academy and so the academy girls got to sit in the front. We were, like, way in the back like more like the stage would be and over where that rectory is. (motions toward the outside church buildings)

SG: Wow.

SM: - and we'd be up here with this little tiny TV, but you could hear it -they put the sound near the mic so you could hear the proceedings, but you couldn't see anything. (laughter)

SG: Awww.

SM: Yeah.

SG: What an introduction to television!

SM: That was my – well, for growing up, I never had television either. I saw television when I visited my cousin in Westbrook, but we didn't have one.


SM: So, (laughter) it wasn't any, it wasn't a hardship for me. But and now mostly what I watch - it would be only wholesome and there’s not much on TV now. That's why, I know, I'm sure that's why you don't even bother with having it. (laughter) It isn't worth having it unless you can - but I get it so I can watch the WTN - that canonization will be on this Sunday and things like that. So, but other than that I don't much bother.

SG: What is -for the most part what does the typical year look like? Pretty consistently the same?

SM: Well for, for my mission, like when I was teaching school, you'd have the summer months off and we used to - that brings another story. (laughter) We used to - in the summertime, we would go to a mission like this. This is a year round mission I have. I am allowed six weeks off someplace, but I usually take it throughout the year. For example, when I go down to Portland for a meeting, I'll take a few days before for the traveling and like that and I get my vacation time that way. But with the school year, we would have from September to June that's when we would -be work time and then you'd have the summer off. And then they used to ask us to kinda fill in for the people on the year round missions so that they would have a yearly retreat. So that's one thing that we always have -a week out for vacation and a week out for a yearly retreat. No matter what mission we're on we're allowed that, so I do go someplace for a retreat and the last few years I've been going to Ender's Island in Connecticut. It's near Mystic, Connecticut.

SG: Yeah.

SM: It's a beautiful place. If you want to go to a quiet, peaceful place, go there. And even though they have a lot of active things, it's - you can always find a quiet spot for you, you know.

SG: Right. That sounds wonderful.

SM: So that's where I usually go. I haven't scheduled that yet for this year - That's one thing I've got to get done (laughter) before they don't have a space for me.

SG: What have you found the most delightful about becoming a nun?

SM: The most delightful - I don't know, I have a problem with that because everything about it's delightful.

SG: Well, good! (laughter)

SM: (laughter) I guess that's my answer. I don't -can't have found anything that I didn't like about it ever. Well, yeah, there can be some conflicts of personality not but -no matter what you're in.

SG: Yeah, you can have that. (laughter)

SM: (Laughter) Marriage life I'm sure you do. But, but living with a group of women -right now, I'm living alone. If I suddenly went back to living with, you know, a group of nuns that might take a little adjustment time. When I go down for the weekend the -for these meetings sometimes, that's a little adjustment because there - just not used to - I'm not used to having someone around me that's going to interfere with my plan. (laughter) Which is not necessarily good, (laughter) but I'll get over it. (laughter)

SG: (laughter)

SM: Well, there isn't, but I I I can't think of any one thing that -I don't know. I enjoy people - I'm a people person. Maybe that can be the answer.

SG: OK. (laughter)

SM: OK. (laughter)

SG: And no, you don't have to try and think of anything bad just cause I asked a question. (laughter)

SM: I don't care. (laughter) I'm open.

SG: What do you think has been your most rewarding experience in religious life?

SM: Most rewarding. I think, I think seeing people come back to church and I've seen a number of people come back to church. And I've seen a number of people -a lot of times people will come here because they have too. They got into trouble with the law and they have to do service time and then, in that process, somehow they get talking about their spiritual life. One young lady came in she had been baptized as a small child- I thought she had made first communion but she hadn't and she hadn't been confirmed. And the strangest part was that her mother -she had a hard bringing up and her mother had been an alcoholic. In fact, we found her in sleeping in an entryway in the original convent which was over right beside the church -not there anymore.


SM: - Been torn down and anyway, her mother when she did get on her feet. She moved to Connecticut -before she left, she said “Will you watch out for my Danielle?” But I didn't know Danielle’s last name - I didn't know where she lived. I mean, she just said keep an eye out on for Danielle, but I didn't know where she was. Well, this Danielle ended up coming to help me and in that process she used the little bathroom in there and I have little fliers and there was one - 'How to Go to Confession'. So she asked if she could have it and I said “Sure”. I said, “Did you need to go to confession?” She said “Yes” - I did not know that she had never been to confession before (laughter) so I gave her the flier. I called and made an appointment. Well, anyway, it turns out she needed to go through the CIA -which is, its the right of Christian Initiation for Adults. It's like cataclysm classes for the adults and so she did. And she - in the end when she had to have a sponsor, I was asked to be her sponsor. And she also had an addiction problem like her mother which was natural -

SG: Yeah.

SM: - because you fall into it. Anyway, she's been sober for a number of years now and she's that -that is something that I really do feel is what the question was.

SG: - is rewarding.

SM: It is very rewarding. I also had a couple that did the same thing - the woman would come because she needed help. And it was - she was on the verge of getting a divorce with her husband, but she - in order she came to, for help for her lights or something like that. She said “But I want to repay you” so she came to help. And then, in the process, she said and began asking me questions about the Catholic church. She was interested in joining so she went to class. She said “But will you pray for my husband because I don't want to become Catholic unless he does.” I want, she said, “I think that might help our marriage if we both do it” so we prayed together. Every day she came, she prayed and then she'd help me clean around the house and do whatever she could do. And one day, he said “Yeah, I think I'd like to become Catholic too and so (laughter) I became their sponsor.

SG: Oh, wow.

SM: And so those are the rewarding things.

SG: Yeah.

SM: You know and their marriage is mended and he's still a little -what do you call it 'overpowering' to her. She's very submissive -very, very. I mean, there needs to be a balance in every marriage and when, but we work on it and he talks openly to me about it and she does too. So someday maybe well have a gooder, better, gooder, better balance but - (laughter)

SG: (laughter) Have you ever experienced anything that has made you re-evaluate your decision to become a nun?

SM: That was one of the questions I didn't quite understand. I can say that I experience - I never questioned that I didn't belong in the convent. Never, ever once. OK. So whether to answer that. But I did -well, like I mentioned or alluded to a little earlier about living alone, I kind of like things my way and you know. But God is really supposed to be the one in charge and I had had two years in a row that I had several assignments- I'm kind of a flexible person. And back when we first entered, if the Reverend Mother said “Go here” you went there- she said this. And then with Vatican II that was changed and they had to ask you, but I was so used to saying yes that I always said yes and it came to a point where I got another change of assignment. I, I was stationed in Benedicta and I loved that place- it was to me, it was heaven on earth when I first went there. And the first day I was there, I knew everybody by first name- it's a little small town, I don't know if you -you probably pass it on the road on 95 coming in or 295 whatever it is up here- (laughter) that part of the highway.

SG: One -one and 95 I think.

SM: Yeah, yeah. Well, anyway, so I love that place and -but we had, we had to close that convent because there weren't enough nuns so gradually people were dying and people weren't entering. I know that answers - (phone making noise in background) Sorry this phone.

SG: That's OK.

(Tape stopped for Sister --------- to use phone for convent business. Then restarted.)

SM: Where were we? Oh, Benedicta.

SG: Yes.

SM: So anyway, I had had -I was down in Benedicta to fulfill this commitment that we would go for two or three summers once we closed. We would go for two or three summers, do bible vacation, do some teacher education so that they could set up their religious program without us. And that- I think I mentioned earlier that in the summer time we would go to a mission and I was in Eagle Lake and I was supposed to go to Eagle Lake Nursing Home and I like the elderly people and so I had agreed to go there, but on condition that they would make sure that Benedicta for that scheduled bible vacation which they did. So down in Benedicta, my heavenly spot, and I would, I'd be up early in the morning and I would go out and I'd pray. But then I'd pray out in the fields and I went out walking the fields and I found fresh strawberries in the field and so I picked the strawberries and then I came back. And I was making pancakes for the sisters with the strawberries and the little wild ones you know.

SG: Yeah.

SM: Those are the best. So anyway, I was making those and the phone rang and it was the Reverend mother. So I told the sister, I said “You talk to her. I'm not going to burn these pancakes- you tell her that.” So they did and so then when I got on the phone, She said “I hate to do this to you, but I'd like to - I want to change your assignment.” And so I was supposed to -I had been in Biddiford teaching first grade and I loved it and I loved the people there. And anyway, but I said “Yes” because I was in this environment where everything was like heaven, you know. And then, when I got back to Eagle Lake, I felt that I was there for, to cheer up the sisters because they were in their own little rut. They was a older sister who was a pharmacist in Eagle Lake -they knew- there was the administrator of the nursing home and then there the third sister was, took care of the finances for all of the patients and Medicare and Mainecare -whatever they had. And so, I - and that's all they did. They lived that day in and day out and they just that's all they ever talked about, you know.

SG: Wow.

SM: And so I felt like I was there to cheer them up, give them new life. And I get back to Eagle Lake after getting this assignment and all of a sudden I'm plummeted. And I'm saying “That was not fair” and I was in the chapel - and then I thought somebody's gonna come by and hear me talking (laughter) I don't I talk to God out loud and (laughter) so -

SG: You're not the only one. (laughter)

SM: Yeah. So I said OK we're going for a walk so I took a walk out into the field and I was really chewing God out - I mean I was really had it with him. That was you know not good and I mean to get me in that night comfortable environment and ask me and so I say yes and then 'annn' I'm going to another place and I didn't like it. So- but I'm walking the lawn and the men were doing bailing of the hay and they were over on the side. They took a break, but the machine was there and I decided to take the path where they worked because it was cleared- it wasn't walking in all the high grass. So I looked - I saw this little motion on the ground and I looked down and a little tiny baby mouse no bigger than my thumb and I picked it up and I took it in the palm of my hand. And I was going to take it to the edge of the woods where it would be safe because that machine started up they were going to- it would be mincemeat and I didn't want that to happen. I love all animals so I carried I'm carrying the mouse talking “Don't worry I'm going to take you to-” and I could feel the little heartbeat in the from the mouse and as I'm walking along all of a sudden I felt like I was in lifted up and then (the phone rings) [unintelligible phrase] (laughter)

(interview is halted for telephone call/ convent business)

SM: Sure so anyway I felt like God was lifting me up. I could feel motion like I was in in this hand, the hand of God. And I heard this voice “Say can't you trust me'? because you know look at this mouse the mouse had fallen asleep in my hand and see how she trusts you. 'Can't you trust me?' and I named her Beatrice and I ended up writing a book.

SG: Oh!

SM: So I before you go I'll sign it and you can take it with you.

SG: Thank you very much.

SM: That way you can read the story. Then I wrote other stories that go -they're fictitious but this first one is true- she wrote this from her point of view.


SM: She didn't like me using 'tale' so she crossed it out. (discussing the illustration on the book cover)

SG: (laughter) That great.

SM: So that's basically that story so we don't need to go there, but that really happened. But from that point on, I felt OK. God's the one that’s in control and anytime I feel myself going away from that then that’s my cue, you know. Sometimes I'll see a mouse - I actually, when I was walking along the beach one time I had a problem. I found this piece of driftwood and there was a little bit, you know, the wood where the sticks would come out of the wood. Well, there were two little round circles where the twigs would have grown out and it looked like a little mouse and I, it, it became a reminder and anyway

SG: Wow.

SM: OK. Let's go one to the next one so you won't (laughter)

SG: OK. Well, this one - this one is sort of a hard one. One of the things that somebody brought up in my class was they felt that the vow of poverty was the hardest vow you could possibly have to make in your entire life.

SM: I don't think it is.


SM: I really don't. I, I probably because I grew up poor so I didn't learn to cling to things so nothing- I own nothing. I have the use of that phone. (pointing to cell phone on table) Actually it was a gift from one of the parishioners when my car wasn't working properly and I was getting stranded on the road and they said 'you need a phone'. And they bought the phone and paid for it for the first year. Then my community realized the value of it and they paid for it, but it's - it doesn't belong to me, its to my youth. And - but I didn't have a lot of those things when I grew up so I never found that a problem. Probably I can't even say that chastity isn't because I had decided that I didn't want to have that kind of love. And obedience may be -might be the hardest one because of my wanting to be in control because the obedience is to your Superior, but ultimately to God. The Superior is the voice of God and that's probably would have been the hardest for me.


SM: OK. But I never found -at least, well I don't know. You might find that different for, you know, if you have a chance to ask anyone else. (laughter) I don't know, but I never found that a problem.

SG: How do you feel that the church today is different from the church when you were twelve?

SM: Well, a lot of the things have changed in it. Rules I guess I should say. For example, we used to have to fast from midnight until you went to mass and then afterwords you would have your breakfast. Now it's an hour before so that's a big change. We used to during Lent and Advent used to -well, all during Lent if you -I didn't have to because I was not of age, but adults always had to fast all during Lent. And on Friday’s, we were known as fish eaters. That -there's -on the computer there's a fisheaters.com and it will tell about these different customs so we always had to have fish on Friday or non meat - not necessarily that you had to have fish. In fact, a lot of times we didn't have fish because that was expensive. And, and that with Vatican II that changed, but -except during Lent. You know it used to be all year round before that on Friday for Catholics. But now it is just during Advent and Lent, and they expressed that you substitute another penance instead because of the expense of fish that was one of the reasons that change came. It, it's logical, but you're expected to substitute another penance. I preferred on Fridays to have fish or to have a non meat meal myself and many many of the religious I think really do most of the (penance ?) we usually do not have the meat on Friday. But its not obliged - I mean if some, if I were invited out to your house and you were serving meat, I wouldn't - I would eat it. And that would become for me a penance because in my mind I would prefer to not do that, but I would not insult you, you know, by you know (laughter) and that would be allowed.


SM: Does that answer it? Did I, I don't know, there were other changes. One of the things I don't know if it's that question or the next one- no, I think it's that question too. Another change is like in the early Christians, there were not large numbers. The twelve apostles were the first priests and then the - some of the disciples were priests- were the first bishops and some of the disciples were priests and then they ordained-

SG: Yeah

SM: - and so forth and so forth and so it came down. Now in the early history - I did my term paper on history of the church in Maine in high school -that was my term paper. And the early days of the church in Maine, there were very few priests or even in the whole United States there were few priests. They had to come in from Europe, Ireland and so forth and so many priests would be assigned to three or four or several towns and people would have to travel -well like my father's, the nearest church is in Calais and they were Jonesport and Beals Island that was a good travel distance.

SG: Yeah.

SM: And for the church in Benedicta, the priest that used to live in Holten and they traveled down as far as Benadicta and Millinockit and they would be on the run. So the people would be on there own for weeks and weeks and the priests would come once, you know, once a month or something to there little church so in between time they would do that. Now but, then by the time I became Catholic and entered, there was there were like at the cathedrals there were lots of priests. And most parishes had a priest or maybe they might have two churches or they'd have a mission church, but now today we are discovering a shortage of vocations and I think that’s kind of intertwined in another question so we will be able to cover it. But so, that - right at this point we have one priest. He has two assistants -one of them lives in the house right next door to me. The pastor lives in Caribou with the other priest and he is responsible -they - three of them, but the pastors responsible for ten churches - from Portage, Ashland, Washburn, North Caribou, South Caribou, South [unintelligible phrase], Mars Hill and us. I don't know if I named them all- oh New Sweden, Stockholm. Yep, ten churches so its almost like its going -history repeating itself and I don't know how they do it. I really and truly, I pray for them everyday I feel that's my mission now is to pray for the priests because they are being so stretched. And for the holy days now, there were some of the churches that didn't have any -for Easter did not have any mass. They had to Mars Hill- people had to come here or [ - ? -] or wherever they could find mass. They'd - because there's only three of them they could only, you know, the Easter vigil service at three places and so they chose three biggest ones and that -

SG: Wow

SM: -put distances so we had one here, there was one in Caribou and then they had it in Ashland.

SG: Wow.

SM: And so the other people had to find - if they wanted to go to the Easter vigil, you know- you're not obliged, but if you wanted too, you had to travel.


SM: To do that and that's like it would have been in the olden days.

SG: Huh.

SM: And then for Easter Sunday itself each of the priests had two masses - there would be one at nine and one at eleven and on a regular weekend I -they had four masses. They do one at four, one at six, one at nine, and one at eleven on Sunday.

SG: [ - ? - ]

SM: Saturday is four and six and that takes care of all the churches. Now some of them will only have one. - St Mary's is a little bigger so we have a four and we have a nine so people here have a choice, but when I first came here there were like three masses on Sunday and two on Saturday here in this church alone -so yes its changed a lot.

SG: Wow.

SM: Just because of the shortage of vocations I guess that's the main reason.

SG: Do you have any particular ideas as to why vocations have gone down?

SM: No, well yes - society in general has become very -hmmm what's the word I want -I got to think about it. It's just a lot of things have deteriorated -I think that’s the word as far as morals and things like that and so. And I think there's a whole a large group or segment of our society that is unchurched. Because of the various -the changes that came about in Vatican II, some people were disillusioned by that and so they kinda of dropped out of church for a while and when that happened, their children were not brought up -like this young lady that I told you about that she-

SG: Yeah.

SM: -found my flier about confession-

SG: Yeah.

SM: - and decided that she wanted to go to confession and come to church. Now she comes faithfully- she comes down, she gives me a hug every Sunday (laughter) or when she catches me out. I'm involved a lot in retreat work and so sometimes I'm not here, but when I am here she'll come and find me.

SG: You also mentioned that there was a period of time where nuns had to travel together-

SM: Oh yes. When we, when we first entered we weren't allowed to visit our family unless we went with a partner. There a there’s a funny story you can have in between -there were - when we were first allowed to vote they didn't they didn't have us go out from for very much, but when they decided that we could vote we had to go two by two and one of the sisters -we had some sisters who joined us from Canada, but its not. Oh anyway, she was from these - one of these sisters was from Canada so she wasn't eligible to vote OK. She did -never have taken our national, you know, citizenship so, but she had -she went with this part- with this other sister who was going to vote. And so the lady said 'name' and she said 'I'm her partner' so the girl wrote Ima -IMA- (laughter) Partner. So that really happened - Ima Partner. (laughter) Anyway, that's just a little side thing- you don't need to put that in there. (laughter) But it really happened. I laugh -every time I go to vote, I think of Ima Partner. (laughter)

SG: So why do you think they changed that because clearly - if they- if at least in my mind-

SM: Changed what, dear?

SG: Changed where you don't have to go two by two anymore. 519

SM: Oh, well that came with Vatican II too. It -they just felt, I don't know, I think again it goes with the changes in society and that got put in- I don't know why. I think they did it originally as a protection, but its -was kind of - this Mrs. Feeny, I remember her saying she would fix this scrumptious meal. The two the sisters would eat, but she couldn't join them. That was one of the things that would happen, you know, because we weren't supposed to be seen. Maybe we weren't supposed to be seen eating? (mutual laughter) I don't know -It didn't happen to me so I don't - I didn't experience that. I just heard the stories, but I did experience the having to have a partner because my mother lived - when I went to college, I was at Saint Josephs in North Windham and my mother lived about fifteen -ten or fifteen minutes away from there. And oftentimes if I wanted to stay a little longer to use the library because I was a math major and there were a lot of things I needed to have for my paperwork so mom would take me home, but I'd have to get a sister who wanted to stay too. And so one time my mother came to pick me up, but well -that got changed, all of a sudden they announced that we no longer had to do that and it came from Vatican II. And so I hopped in the car and mom still was waiting and I said “We're ready to go.” She said “Well, where's your partner ?” (laughter) I said “Oh, they took that out -we don't have to do it any more.” But I was glad to tell her. (mutual laughter) So, but I, I, I think it was just because of some of those things came in and they were almost ridiculous- I mean: example not allowing you to eat with your family if you're visiting somebody -you should eat with them.

SG: Yeah.

SM: Or have tea with them or whatever they had. She had to set it up and then they could eat and then come back and they could visit- it was a little ridiculous.

SG: Wow.

SM: But those are customs that just got put in - it wasn't that way in the beginning. They just gradually got in there and so in Vatican II, we were supposed to look at the signs of the times and study that and then they would make recommendations at the chapters and then that's when it would get changed.


SM: So again it wasn't actually coming from Rome- it came from within, but with the direction from Rome saying, you know, change some of these customs because they're not right.


SM: (laughter)

SG: Do you think that the church is getting enough of women's religious views on church related issues?

SM: I think so, in this day and age I think so. I - maybe not in the beginning, but I think they are- I mean, we have women who are parish assistants. The priest is still -we can't -I do a lot for the church I do eucharistic service. I cannot consecrate, I can't say mass, I can't hear confession -I hear a lot of confessions let's put it this way-

SG: (laughter)

SM: Lots of people tell me all their sins and then I'll say “OK sweetheart” -

SG: Yeah (laughter)

SM: - “You've done the easy part. Now the hard parts done. I'm gonna make you an appointment with a priest because I can't give you absolution.” (mutual laughter) And they're OK with that, you know, that was like a rehearsal for them. And they know I'll never tell (laughter), but yeah I think -I do think that our views are listened to. My pastor I feel is very open to whatever I will suggest so I don't have a problem with that.

SG: What advice would you give to somebody who is considering a vocation that you wish someone had told you before you made this choice?

SM: I couldn't -that was one of my hard ones too. I, I, I think that I would encourage them to come and pray with me for a long time before. I, I, I wish that that had happened - that I had been - Sister Mary James gave me books and helped, but I wasn't sure what I was doing with it. And if we -and if I had been allowed to come and, you know, pray with the sisters before I entered I think I would have liked that better.


SM: And that -and anybody that tells me they're interested I always invite them to come and pray with me.


SM: Before, you know. And I, I also -I also give them books about Mother McAuley, but I also tell them that, you know, they need to look at and find their own gifts and make sure that they match up with what Mother McAuley gifts were or-

Side two of the tape ends mid sentence

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