“Band of Sisters” documentary about liberal women religious premiers

We start a new work week with some old fashioned dissent.

And I mean old.

Picture if you will the paradox of a visible but invisible group of women religious dissenters. Even as they stay in the public eye, because of one antic or other, they are rapidly shrinking, because of no vocations.

In southern Wisconsin we still – for a little while yet – find the Sinsinawa Dominicans.

You will remember the great example of LCWR’ish ministry in the work of one Sr. Donna Quinn, an advocate for legalized abortion who as late as 2009 escorted women to abortion clinics in the Chicago area so they could abort their babies safe from pro-life protesters. See my exposé NUNS GONE WILD!

Ah, Sinsinawa!  Their founder, Servant of God Samuel Mazzuchelli, OP, must be twisting in his tomb.

I am always happy to talk about this group: for our sins, one of them was set over us during seminary to make us rue the day God made us male.

At the blog Laetificat, there is a report about the screening, at the Sinsinawa motherhouse of a film/documentary about liberal religious sisters: “Band of Sisters”.  The post is longish, but it makes for interesting reading.  Interesting in the sense of how an autopsy is interesting.

I loved this line: “Although there wasn’t actually a standing ovation, the film warmly praised by other attendees.”

That’s probably because most of them have a hard time getting out of their chairs.

The blog’s writer explains how sad she was that, in talking with the women religious there, she couldn’t find one who didn’t believe in women’s ordination.

If you have a few minutes go over there, read, and view the trailer.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. AloysiusJM says:

    Why isnt the nun on their advertisement banner wearing a pant suit?

  2. Darren says:

    Right from the very beginning, the first words spoken by the first nun, you see who is really behind this.

    “I wanted to do two things in my life. I wanted to love God, and I wanted to be perfect.”

    Sound familiar? Only God is perfect, and none of us have the slightest chance of being perfect. When this sentiment was first expressed there was a response, a battle cry, that went like this, “Who is like God?!”

    We clearly can see who is behind this documentary, and those who produced it.

  3. BeckyCA says:

    I was astounded, in looking up the bio of Donna Quinn, to see she herself had been educated by the Sinsinawa Dominicans. I did a Google search for how those sisters looked pre-Vatican II and it is astounding what elaborate habits they were wearing as late as the 1960s. I don’t understand how they could have looked like that then, and be where they are today.

    As a college student, I knew Sr. Laurie Brink, who gave the infamous “move beyond Jesus” speech. She was definitely a feminist but I would go so far as to say she saved my life back then (she was my “dorm mother” at Notre Dame) and I will always be grateful to her for that. But I am so saddened at the kind of order she has ended up in.

  4. acardnal says:

    Did you notice in the blogger’s report that little, if any, mention of Jesus Christ was made?

    Someone posted this quotation from Servant of God, Fr. John Hardon, SJ, at the Laetificat blog. I cannot add anything to it.

    “The new pagan worships only one god, and that one god is man himself. This new paganism has assumed a variety of names, each beginning understandably with the adjective new. Some samples: it is called the New Theology, it is called the New Age, it is called the New Creation. This is a religion, it has worship, and ritual, to create the new man, so that the new man may create the new world… This new paganism idolizes each person’s own mind; it idolizes each person’s own will…The god is no longer the infinite Creator of the human race, it is man himself.”

    (The whole conference is available on YouTube. It’s over an hour and a half, but all very important information from a very wise, very holy, very Catholic priest: Catholic Re-evangelization – Lesson 3 Neo Paganism)

  5. mschu528 says:

    Unfortunately that YouTube link did not copy for that wonderful Fr Hardon talk @acardnal referenced. It is here:

    Catholic Re-Evangelization – Lesson 3 Neo Paganism

  6. Legisperitus says:

    Comment from one of the sisters in attendance:

    “We’ve been part of something growing like yeast.”

    Eugh. Am I the only one thinking of an infection in the Church?

  7. Therese says:

    “Why isnt the nun on their advertisement banner wearing a pant suit?”

    This tells the truth. Like some atheists (and abortionists, for example), the sisters wanted to have a unique conversation with the Church and began by trying to redefine their terms. But the words and symbols themselves have meaning only in the sense they were given by the Church. It was altogether a fool’s errand, and the image on the advertisement proclaims loudly that they know it, too.

  8. The Masked Chicken says:

    “I don’t understand how they could have looked like that then, and be where they are today.”

    The emminent history professor, James Hitchcock, answered that question in his little book:
    Recovery of the Sacred (Chapter 5 or 6, or 8, I think).

    It is available, online: http://www.adoremus.org/RecoverySacred.html

    “Only God is perfect, and none of us have the slightest chance of being perfect.”

    The word, “perfect,” can be used in different senses. St. Teresa of Avila wrote a book entitled, “The Way of Perfection,” (okay, someone else gave it that title, but, still…). In Psalm 140 it says: “He who walks in the way of perfection shall be My friend…”

    Man has his own perfection, just as God has His. They are separate things. A man’s perfection consists, in part, in acting according to God’s will. In this sense, perfection is a dynamic process. These sisters are nowhere near it because they do not conform their minds to God’s will.

    The Chicken

  9. acricketchirps says:

    Darren: I wanted to be perfect
    To be perfectly charitable we should assume she was thinking of Matt 5:48 and not reprising Satan’s boast.

  10. dominic1955 says:

    That is the first thing I thought too-have some integrity and drop the traditional habit in all of your advertisement or propaganda just like you dropped it 50 years ago from your persons.

    Of course, who is even going to give a movie a second look that has “Band of Sisters” and an amorphous humanoid figure?

  11. NBW says:

    acardnal: You are right, Fr. Hardon’s quote says it all.
    I pray that the liberal nuns repent and choose to do God’s will not theirs.

  12. Elizabeth D says:

    I was the blogger who went to Sinsinawa and blogged this. Featured in the film: Reiki, “women’s ordination”, animals, plants, rocks and air have rights from the same source as humans have rights and one species shouldn’t be privileged over others, “the whole earth is a manifestation of God”, and the Sisters’ new cosmology doesn’t have a heaven and hell anymore. Jesus is hardly mentioned.

    comments from Sinsinawa Dominicans at the film showing:
    “I wonder if she went in the Academy Awards for best documentary!”
    “I saw so many people I knew, it’s like a reunion!”
    “The film was true to my lived experience. We’ve been part of something growing like yeast, we’ve been on a trajectory. You [filmmaker Mary Fishman] did it the best I’ve ever seen.”

    It was sad. New-ageism seems so much the prevailing belief in this Order and there seems to be so little respect for Catholic teaching that it is hard to see how they could turn themselves around and begin to thrive again. But I pray for that.

  13. marajoy says:


    “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

    Hmm…I’m not quite sure why that is such a terrible thing to aspire to…

  14. MarylandBill says:

    I believe CNN posted an article about this on their website a couple of weeks ago (As usual, Christmas and Easter bring out the worst in the mainstream media). If you had never encountered religious before reading that article, you would have believed that post Vatican II nuns were the first to be interested in serving the poor and the needs of Social Justice and that somehow or other a religious habit prevented sisters from serving in that role. I only hope that Saints like Marianne Cope and Elizabeth Anne Seaton (to name two American examples) are more charitable than I was feeling when I read that article.

  15. brahms3 says:

    Surprised they chose a traditional looking nun image for the ad. Thought they “kicked the habit” in the 70’s.

  16. brahms3 says:

    And I may be mistaken, but isn’t the term “citizens of the world” a socialist phrase coined by the United Nations?

  17. rroan says:

    The tagline on the poster says it all:

    The remarkable journey of Catholic nuns in the United States from daughters of the Church to citizens of the World.

  18. Liz says:

    Bleh. Pink and Purple polyester never helped anyone.

    Actually, I really enjoyed those early clips with the beautiful sisters in their traditional habits and those gorgeous brides’ of Christ.

  19. Diane at Te Deum Laudamus says:

    Religious sisters like that scandalized me in my youth. Now, that I understand more about the faith, I am moved to pity them that they could be so messed up. God have mercy on them, and everyone they have and continue to scandalize.

  20. AvantiBev says:

    Oh my gosh! No surpise Fishman, the film maker, went to Mother MickAuley on Chi town’s south side. I went there sad to say. [I WAS the DIVERSITY along with 2 Lithuanians, a couple of Black girls.] No wonder with her background with the RSM’s she has created this laudatory work.

    In 1970 they threw out the Augustine and Aquinas and taught us from pop psych “coloring books” as we girls called them. They shut down poor, old Sr. Claudia’s attempts to teach us from the Pentateuch – I liked that class but had to read OT commentary on my own when they forced us back to the coloring books.

    The RSM’s happy to take my Daddy’s hard earned $ for tuition, books and fees but demonized him and any other hard working steel worker, along with the business man, the industrialists and entrepreneurs. Well they got what they wanted when US Steel had to close down South Works throwing thousands out of work and devastating the neighborhoods surrounding the mill. Then they complained about “the poor” not being helped. Hey, Sister Mickey, they HAD jobs when you were picketing for more regs and rules, 100% clean air, 100% pure water, 100% raises for the unions. , GOD WHAT ECON ILLITERATES and HYPOCRITES you are.

    Ah the South Side Irish, just when I think I ‘m out, they pop back up and pull me in to those old feelings. Ah well. Northwestern won OUR bowl game and we all know who lost theirs.

  21. This is so sad. Religious vocation is such a huge gift from the Lord – I simply cannot begin to understand how women who have been honoured with it can not value it…

  22. Katheryn says:

    I’m sure the nun in habit as opposed to a vesty pantsuit is to try and dupe people who don’t know any better into viewing the film.

  23. i watched a part of the trailer; anyone have an antacid?

  24. Katheryn says:

    Watching that trailer was absolutely heartbreaking for me. It actually reminded me of friends who have gotten divorced; good people who are heading down a desperately wrong path trying to salvage what they can using their own power. They simply cannot seem to reconcile their dignity as human beings while submitting to their spouse, however mysterious and painful the fruits of submission may be. These sisters need the same type of divorce care that my friends do. I wonder if any sort of outreach or psychological care has been offered to them.
    As sad and disgusting as their weird beliefs and cosmology are, the trailer has definitely given me pause to pray for them as lost.

  25. Stumbler but trying says:

    @ Liz:
    I was thinking the same thing…watching those beauties dressed in their habits, tending to the flowers for their groom, Christ our Lord. What happened? Did self -importance and the ME seduce them so that they abandoned the One who was to be their all in all?
    As I watched the clip and saw the sisters as they are now, it made me sad. Where is that glow of humility? Of holiness? Of wanting to inspire the rest of us poor folk who wish to sit at the feet of Jesus? I have volunteered with the Carmelites of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Alhambra and they are either same age as me or younger and all are beautiful to behold as they radiate such joy, such devotion to our Lord…it makes me smile just thinking about them. Alas, nothing came to me as I watched these sisters talk of their “spiritual journey.”
    I cannot judge them as I only share what came to me as I watched the video. I too, will remember them all in my feeble attempts at prayer.
    Lord Jesus have mercy on us all. Amen

  26. doozer125 says:

    Here’s the original trailer…even more sad than the one listed. I shudder to think of the scandal this “documentary” will spread.


  27. doozer125 says:

    What’s really sad, and this is what I see, is that I really can’t tell the difference between these nuns and my lesbian neighbors.

  28. Long-Skirts says:


    Who’ll say Mass
    Assumption Feast?
    No longer done
    Said parish priest.

    Who will baptize
    Little one?
    More important

    The Catholic Faith
    Please teach my child?
    Not I, said nun born-

    Who will help
    Teach catechism?
    Don’t call it that
    It sounds like schism.

    Who will hear
    My child confess?
    We’re all forgiven

    Who will give
    The angels’ Bread?
    Sue and Fred.

    Confirm my teens
    Their souls they’re losing?
    That must be done
    Of their own choosing.

    So little mother
    Walked away
    Hating to
    Look bold.

    Never orphaned
    Clung to Cross
    Deposit- Faith
    Her gold.

    Then up above
    On mountain top
    A man in white
    He stood.

    Just one more Bishop
    Who’ll try to stop…
    What’s good.

    But Bishop lifted
    Up her Cross
    His sons helped
    Bear the weight.

    And Pilgrims in
    Progressive lands
    Continued in

    They handed down
    What they were taught
    Vocations now
    They flourish

    And others old
    Who loved new-thought
    Had only crust
    To nourish.

    But little mother
    Saw their tears
    Starving for
    What’s true…

    Come in, come in,
    We’ve waited years…
    His Bread’s, in memory,
    For you!!!

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  30. pmullane says:

    “The remarkable journey of Catholic nuns in the United States from daughters of the Church to citizens of the World.”

    Its shocking that a religious would think this a good thing, Its scandalous that its not a surprise to hear them say it.

    They do know whose dominion ‘the world’ is, right?

  31. Magash says:

    Let us hope that Archbishop Sartain and the appropriate Vatican congregations have received a copy of the film or have at least seen ElizabethD or Fr Z. blog posts on it. Certainly the bishops throughout the U.S. need to be aware of it, least it show up in a thousand parishes as the centerpiece of some kind of misguided celebration of women religious the the U.S.

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  33. pelerin says:

    Does anyone else find it slightly ironic that today’s sisters actually wear what I term a secular habit? They have swapped a traditional habit for ordinary clothes but they still actually end up looking very similar! Obviously they are not going to follow fashion (or I hope not anyway) and have ended up here in Europe wearing usually a white blouse of the kind most women gave up years ago; a shapeless drab cardigan; and equally shapeless drab skirt. They can be spotted almost as easily as if they were wearing a habit. I have yet to see an English nun in what you in America call a pant-suit though. But I did once chat to a lady in jeans carrying a fancy handbag in Lourdes who turned out to be a nun.

    I seem to remember that nuns of old seemed almost to glide when wearing the habit. In their new mufti this no longer happens! What one wears does affect ones bearing – actresses say this when they put on long dresses for a period play it alters their bearing.

  34. BeckyCA says:

    That trailer is fascinating. But I believe it’s misleading, and not just in the sense of “The Vatican is the Big Bad Wolf” misleading. The trailer is misleading because for the most part, it doesn’t show the Sisters doing anything that obviously violates Church teaching. Protesting the war? Protesting deportation? Advocating for stewardship of the environment? Those may be left-wing causes, and some statements made by some of the Sisters are loopy. But the activism shown in the trailer is not necessarily against the mind of the Church. Obviously, it’s what the trailer doesn’t show — Sisters worshiping the goddess within, promoting abortion rights, etc. — that has led the Vatican to investigate them, and rightly so.

    Still, I would watch the whole documentary to get a better sense of why these Sisters have become what they’ve become. I don’t think influences like civil rights activism, feminism, the Vietnam War, and Vatican II can be downplayed.

    And sadly, I think there is some truth to what the one sister says about “We forsook our habits out of obedience to what the pope asked us to do.” See Ann Carey’s “Sisters in Crisis” or “Sisters in Rebellion” by Randy Engel (admittedly a very provocative writer) (http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/engel/120423) for a discussion of this. Some Catholics believe that Pope Pius XII’s attempts to modernize religious life starting in the late 1940’s tampered with something that shouldn’t have been tampered with, setting in motion the collapse of entire religious orders. Obviously, the sisters hold a lot of culpability for what they made of themselves, but one wonders how the whole process got set in motion.

  35. acardnal says:

    ” I think there is some truth to what the one sister says about ‘We forsook our habits out of obedience to what the pope asked us to do.’”

    I am unaware of any decree from the Holy See that directed the sisters to forsake their habits. If there is one, I would like a citation.

    Ann Carey has revised her book and her new and updated edition is due any day.

    I have not seen this film but as with most propaganda, I am sure it is one sided based on the proclivities of Mary Fishman and does not explicate the whole story such as many of the sisters’ adoption of New Age and New World philosophies.

    Here is a video interview with author and subject matter expert Ann Carey:


  36. Joe in Canada says:

    Darren; Sister Sylvester is using the language of the “old days”. Religious life (life in a religious order) was ‘the way of perfection’. The document of VII about renewal of religious life was called Perfectae caritatis. She is not saying that is what she thinks she is doing now, and without watching the rest (I couldn’t, I’m sorry) I suspect she would expressly not use such language. And in the old days it was not presumptuous, since Jesus Himself commanded us to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect.

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