Make some popcorn and look at a piece at Fishwrap about young feminists sitting at the knees of Sr. Joan “Triumph in Tahir” Chittister, learning from her Yoda-like wisdom. It’ll be a nostaglic read. My emphases and comments.
Young women ask difficult questions to challenge church at recent Joan Chittister institute
Eight female-identifying Catholics in their 20s and 30s, [That’s really how it starts!] all of them students or recent graduates of programs in theology or divinity, gathered June 17-30 at Mount St. Benedict Monastery in Erie, Pennsylvania, for the inaugural Joan Chittister Institute for Contemporary Spirituality: A Feminist Benedictine Option.
Each morning, the group convened for prayer, followed by discussions of Sister Joan’s books, the tenets of monastic life, and an exploration of great Benedictine women of history. [A hard way to get time off of Purgatory, if you ask me.]
The following are reflections written by two of the institute’s participants.
Jessie Bazan works for the Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research. She holds a Master of Divinity degree from St. John’s University School of Theology and Seminary. [Ahhh… the coveted MDiv!]
“Shout your truth. [NB: Not THE truth.] Many will tell you to quit, soften it, be more careful. But if you want to make even the slightest change, do not listen to them. Keep shouting. Shout louder. That’s what it means to be a witness.” [No. That’s what it means to be a loudmouth.]
We believe differently. [On this we can agree.] Day after day, class after class, God moment after God moment, we show up. Our stories dispute the narratives being written about us. “Millennials are leaving the church,” they say. “Feminism and Catholicism don’t mix,” they assume. “Those women are too young, too naive, too progressive,” they bemoan. Listening with the ear of our hearts, we know and believe otherwise. We have different stories to tell. [Feel the Force you must. Differently believe you will.]
During our time together at the institute, our group of 20- and 30-something theologians told stories of love and heartbreak. We lifted up a theology of liberation and marched in the streets for peace with a group of nuns. We lamented the mistreatment of trans women of color [you forgot the undocumented immigrant balding rabbinical male-identifying trans women of color] and the absence of women preaching from the pulpit. We wondered aloud why liturgies limit God to “he” and how to navigate the demands of work and relationships. We prayed. We danced. We watched the sun set. We joked, with some seriousness, that if it was 50 years earlier, we would all be together in the convent by now. [No. You would be about to leave the convent together.]
These women did not let the injustices of the patriarchy sidetrack their callings to feed the hungry, welcome the stranger and demand peace for all. Their practical wisdom is a gift for those of us moving toward the front lines today. It’s true — together, we can imagine a more inclusive, feminist church into being. [And joy is like the raaaaaain.]
Wow. Quite the blast from the past!
Those young women were at a sort of… archaeological dig?
No. Better, a feminist Renaissance Fair!
I’ll leave you with a song.
Perhaps you will get out your tambourine and fight patriarchy by dancing beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free. In dance, imagine something into being! I’m going to imagine a Bugatti Chiron into my parking spot.