So You Think Nuns are Mean?

Posted on Jan 17, 2014 in Polycystic Kidney Disease, Reflections, The Reluctant Donor Book | 0 comments

So You Think Nuns are Mean?

 Breaking the Stigma About Nuns Being No Fun

Many of you know about my family’s connection to the Dominican nuns because of our beloved Sister Mike.  For those of you who don’t know nuns, or Sisters as they’re also called,  the best way to describe them is they are a group of women who take a vow to dedicate their lives to serve God.  My grandpa Mike’s sister and daughter were both Dominican nuns, Sister Francis and Sister Mike.  Sister Mike was, of course, not a typical nun, as those of you who have read my book learned.  She was fun-loving, mischievous, and courageous. She was my fairy godmother disguised as a nun.  When she died . . . how many 45-year-olds do you know who would accept death so others could live?  But, today, let’s just focus on fun.

When I was a little girl about to start 1st grade, I was beside myself with excitement.  All I kept saying was that I couldn’t wait to ask my new teacher if she knew Sister Mike.   And, yes!  My new teacher, Sister Marie Raphael, OP (Order of Preachers) knew and loved her.  Not to mention that everyone in the family, except 6-year-old me, played along and enjoy my delight when my teacher said, “Why yes!  I know Sister Michael Mary! I didn’t know she had a niece named Suzie!”  (Even though she was in on it all along.)

Sister Marie Raphael was also my little sister, JoAnn’s, 1st grade teacher,  the year I went to 2nd grade.  We kept in touch with Sister Marie Raphael through the years. She became far more than a first grade teacher.  She continued her education and eventually was chaplain and director of spiritual care at St. Joseph Healthcare system in Albuquerque, NM.

How many of you kept in touch with your first grade teacher?   “Raph” was a pistol and there is a funny story in my book about the joke she played on my mother.  When my book was published, she invited us to speak to all the other nuns at The Mound in  Wisconsin.  After our presentation and reception, “Raph” invited us to have something “stronger” to drink in her room!

She passed away this past July at the age of 85.  Somehow I believe there is a party up in heaven going on with Sister Mike and “Raph”.  I’m betting the nun who wrote the prayer below back in the 17th Century has the same sense of fun as Sister Mike and Sister Marie Raphael and Sister Francis.  Maybe you had a “bad” nun in your past.  My mom always used to say, “Don’t let one bad apple spoil the bunch!”  I have great respect for the work nuns do to make the world a better place. Amen!


Prayer of a 17th Century Nun

Lord, thou knowest better than I know myself that I am growing older and will some day be old. Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and on every occasion. Release me from craving to straighten out everybody’s affairs. Make me thoughtful but not moody; helpful but not bossy. With my vast store of wisdom it seems a pity not to use it all, but Thou knowest Lord, that I want a few friends at the end.

Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point. Seal my lips on my aches and pains. They are increasing and love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by. I dare not ask for grace enough to enjoy the tales of other’s pains, but help me to endure them with patience. I dare not ask for improved memory, but for a growing humility and a lessening cocksureness when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken.

Keep me reasonably sweet; I do not want to be a saint-some of them are so hard to live with-but a sour old person is one of the crowning works of the Devil. Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places and talents in unexpected people. And, give me, O Lord, the grace to tell them so.


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