Saturday, April 21, 2007
Forever and Ever, Amen
Sister Karol Jackowski's memoir is subtitled Becoming a Nun in the Sixties. I found this a fascinating book. It was very personal to me. I never intended to be a nun. But, my Great Aunt was a Notre Dame nun, and my mother has a number of cousins who were nuns. Sister Karol's book opened up a secret window. Every child that attended a Catholic school must have wondered at one time what the convent was like.
Sister Karol reveals that life in the convent was in some ways, much better than we would have thought, and, in other ways, much worse. Her book is the story of the first seven years, the formative years in becoming a nun. She joined the Sisters of the Holy Cross at Saint Mary's in South Bend, IN. The 1960s were a period of dramatic change in the Catholic Church, and therefore a period of dramatic change in the cloistered lives of nuns. More than 200,000 women left the convent in the years following Vatican II. In 1966, Vatican II changed so much more than the habits worn by nuns, and the ability to keep their own names. Sister Karol reveals the turmoil in the convents and communities, the changes brought about that were resented by many of the nuns.
Sister Karol Jackowski's years before professing final vows were not easy ones. She watched many of her friends leave the sisterhood. Many left because of the changes. Many left because the changes weren't great enough. This is a compelling examination of the state of the religious life in the 1960s, and the dramatic changes in that life. Sister Karol Jackowski herself is a surprise. Her book is an expression of joy.
Forever and Ever, Amen: Becoming a Nun in the Sixties by Sister Karol Jackowski. Penguin Group, ©2007. ISBN 9781594489372 (hardback), 306p.