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A Catholic church in the area recently sponsored a trip for teens to a local seminary. It appeared in the bulletin under the title "Hike and Hail Mary!" which makes it absolutely the most awesomely named thing I've seen since the article about a tightrope performer in Korea entitled "Skywalker Crosses Han Solo."

You have to do this with The Kids Today, I've found, because "Nuns are Neat-o!" probably isn't going to herd them in. At Notre Dame, the Office for Vocations scattered posters around the male dorms featuring two priests in full Roman collar and sunglasses, staring at the camera over the words "JOIN THE MEN IN BLACK." (At the time, I wasn't even aware that Saint Mary's, with its walking-around audience of 1600 women, even had an office for vocations. I had to look it up just now to make sure one existed at all.)

There is a severe priest and nun shortage on, and several orders, with shocking population pyramids far more dramatic than the one we face as a nation, are simply phasing themselves out-- no new sisters, no new brothers, because the leaders are projecting that there won't be enough future members to care for the religious who join right now.

Whereas not one single person ever sat me down with a veil and an application form, my parents received almost daily priest-and-nun job ads as they grew up. It was very much a part of the system, a strongly encouraged professional avenue from within Catholicism rather than the sensational "No! Really?" type of decision it is today. Maybe it's because the job field is so open to women and both sexes are now attending college in record numbers without the help of religious orders, but despite twenty-two years in the Catholic bowling ghetto, I know exactly zero ladies and two men of my generation who full-on chose this path. One man spent a year in Colorado Springs Holy Cross Novitiate. The other I chose to cheat on my then-boyfriend with. Both have since left the seminary.

Oh, crap, it's me. I'm the problem.

In more ways than one. In the days when the orders could pick and choose, my mother applied to the Sisters of Charity, who politely told her to kiss off. Their loss. My mom would have been an awesome nun. But you'll excuse me for a bit of selfishness when I announce that I'm really rather glad the Lord said, "Nooooooo-- I need you to give birth to a person who gets lost in handicapped bathroom stalls instead."

not on the SAT future career check-box at: mbe@drinktothelasses.com

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Reader Comments (2)

I got voted to most likely to be a nun by my high school friends. (I went to public school.) My life could be compared to that of a nun except for one tiny setback. I am not Catholic anymore.

I remember at the Adopt a Nun programs at school that they said the church was in need of more sisters then. I am sure the problem has only gotten worse. I also remember the "men in black' posters. They didn't seem the best sales pitch to me.

I also remember said boyfriend that was cheated on and as your friend, I am telling you he deserved it. (Mostly b/c he went on to marry a cheerleader, that in itself deserves a lot worse.)

You should not blame yourself for turning said seminarian out of the priest hood. My guess is that if he really wanted to be a priest, he would have stayed. I konw you are a force to be reckoned with but I also know is a much more powerful force. It isn't you. I think it is the job. Most nuns I see are shuttled off to some foreign country that is totally poverty stricken and they are doing the work of the Peace Corps and other orginazations. I wouldn't want to sign up for that. (A nice cushy job in a Catholic school in a nice climate, with running water and indoor toilets, then maybe I'll think about it. Just so long as I don't have to be Catholic again.)

March 20, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKell Belle

My first boyfriend became a priest. My friends always say I drove him to celibacy; I prefer to think that only God could compete with me (smirk).

March 20, 2008 | Unregistered Commenteranne the reader
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