Oprah on Sisters

This clip was hard to find and it may not be up for long.  Enjoy it, or ponder it, while it lasts.  Oprah visits Dominican nuns.  It's part one of four; the rest can be seen on Youtube by clicking on the lower right hand corner of this video, going to Youtube and then checking out the other three on the right-hand side of the screen.

James Martin, SJ

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Ross Lonergan
8 years 11 months ago
I was touched  by the open-heartedness of these nuns and by their love of God, of the religious life and of each other. The women, young and old, seemed genuinely content. I wonder if this particular convent is characterisitic, however, of the majority of cloistered or semi-cloistered communities in the United States and elsewhere. Oprah was, after all, turned down by numerous commnuties before this one agreed to open its doors. I have just finished reading Karen Armstrong's beautifully written memoirs of her life in the convent and after she left her Order. The picture she painted of convent life was far different from what we see in these Oprah videos. Granted, what Armstrong experienced was pre-Vatican II and she was only writing about one Order, but given the swing back to a pre-conciliar spirit since 1978, I do have to wonder....
8 years 11 months ago
What wonderful, joyful women! They moved me deeply.
Andrew Russell
8 years 11 months ago
Sometimes it does seem to be bragging when one says, "I was an attorney, doctor, MIT grad., etc. before I became a religious / priest / churchworker."

One person may be describing what he or she gave up to work for the Church.

Another may be trying to dispell the myth that people become religious sisters / brothers, priests, or lay ecclessial ministers because they are incapable of succeeding in the world.

It seemed as though all the women interviewed, stressed that they felt a happiness in being in the order. Not all the sisters interviewed were highly successful in secular life. One even alluded to a less than perfect background. It seems that they only refered to their past in reference to how much happier they are now, not to brag.
Fran Rossi Szpylczyn
8 years 11 months ago
I was skeptical, but just watching this first section touched my heart. I am always a little suspect of Oprah I guess. She does good work, but there is the whole voyeuristic part.
The sisters are very touching to me - smart women who make a choice to give their lives over to what God calls them to do. At the age of 33, when I was newly back to church, I discerned a vocation as a Dominican contemplative. It was not to be, but here I am almost 20 years later, living a different kind of religious vocation as a church employee, theology grad student and lay minister. (And FWIW I too left the corporate world behind, I say that in full disclosure and it just simply is the case.)
Seeing the nuns at Compline and recalling the Great Silence, the Domincan way that the hours are sung... it all made me weep. This is very remarkable, to see this in the world today.
William Rydberg
8 years 11 months ago
I enjoyed the presentation!
Craig McKee
8 years 11 months ago
Official clips and full transcripts of this Oprah show can be found at:
Note the brief reference she also makes to other ''more independent nuns who don't wear habits and live alone.''
I have sent an email to Oprah and Lisa Ling asking them to give EQUAL TIME to those women as well on her show.
Perhaps others might be interested in doing the same?
James Dominic James
8 years 11 months ago
I watched all four segments, and I'm so glad that I did. It was a pleasure. The joy of the Dominican Sisters of Mary is contagious and refreshing. Thanks for letting us know about their appearance on Oprah.
And Lisa Ling was great too, open and alive to the goodness to be found in the sisters.
Jim McCrea
8 years 11 months ago
Maria:  there are times that you simply need to take a breath and relax.
This is not a high school debating site;  you don't even have to wine!
Jim McCrea
8 years 11 months ago
Oops, "win"
You can have all of the wine you want so long as it doesn't cause you to whine.
Happy Valentine's day one and all.
8 years 11 months ago
Fr. James Kubicki, S.J @ Offer It Up had some important thoughts on consecrated life:

"I think Jesus chose fishermen because they would naturally know something about evangelization. You have to be patient and gentle, and you have to use the right bait or lure. What's the bait that we use? Ourselves, the witness of our lives. We are the way in which Jesus will lure or attract people to Himself. NOTICE:: we don't attract people to ourselves but to Jesus".

Gerelyn Hollingsworth
8 years 11 months ago
How happy they are to have been called to religious life.

One of the postulants was quite open about the financial difficulties she faced before entering. With a vow of poverty, she'll never have to worry about money again.

The community was established 13 years ago, but one of the members has been a nun for 30 years? I wonder what order she was in before. There seems to be a mini-trend for nuns to take advantage of the option they've always had to leave less-demanding orders and seek salvation in stricter orders.

I would like to see a show (or at least articles in NCR, America, and Commonweal) about the nuns participating in Ann Carey's message group - those who ''have voiced concern about fear of reprisal from superiors for their support of the visitation, . . .''

8 years 11 months ago
I watched the program as aired and was distressed that each sister spoke about her vocation in terms of individual needs or wants ("wanting something more," "feeling something was missing," etc.). I do not recall that any sister said she entered to serve others, to teach others about God, or any such thing. In fact, the program gave me no idea of the mission of the Dominican Sisters of Mary. I realize that the producers edited the interviews, but I must say that I did not consider the result inspiring or, for that matter, countercultural.
8 years 11 months ago
Sister O'Neill:

"I watched the program as aired and was distressed that each sister spoke about her vocation in terms of individual needs or wants ("wanting something more," "feeling something was missing," etc.). I do not recall that any sister said she entered to serve others, to teach others about God, or any such thing".

I quite agree with you. This is what I tried to say; however, I failed in my attempt. The habits are lovely. There is an old saying: *the habit does not make the monk*. You said this better than I did. There was a "self-foucs" rather that a "God-focus". If one has fallen in love with the Lord, I should think that one would want to talk of nothing else, along with gratitude to God for have been given the gift. The mission was, indeed, altogether unclear. Pope Benedit offer tis on the consecrated life:

"Consecrated persons are called in a particular way to be witnesses of this mercy of the Lord, in which man finds his salvation. They have the vivid experience of God's forgiveness, because they have the awareness of being saved persons, of being great when they recognize themselves to be small, of feeling renewed and enveloped by the holiness of God when they recognize their own sin. Because of this, also for the man of today, consecrated life remains a privileged school of "compunction of heart," of the humble recognition of one's misery but, likewise, it remains a school of trust in the mercy of God, in His love that never abandons. In reality, the closer we come to God, and the closer one is to Him, the more useful one is to others. Consecrated persons experience the grace, mercy and forgiveness of God not only for themselves, but also for their brothers, being called to carry in their heart and prayer the anxieties and expectations of men, especially of those who are far from God.

In particular, communities that live in cloister, with their specific commitment of fidelity in "being with the Lord," in "being under the cross," often carry out this vicarious role, united to Christ of the Passion, taking on themselves the sufferings and trials of others and offering everything with joy for the salvation of the world".

Wanting something more was not one of Pope Benedict's descriptors of consecrated life.

Gerelyn: The link is very interesting. Laity and nuns are invited to participate. I have ordered Carey's book and am looking forward to reading it. Thanks for the link.
Beth Cioffoletti
8 years 11 months ago
How very delightful and interesting!  I too was touched by the peace and clarity that these women exude.
As a child I was attracted to the contemplative orders of nuns.  I had no idea that they were thriving, as this film attests.  I wish them the very best.
Gerelyn Hollingsworth
8 years 11 months ago
Religious who belong to the new orders and who wear habits have a better chance of getting on t.v. and attracting postulants. The superior of the Sisters of Life was on t.v. again a few months ago. She is co-author of the new book, The Foundations of Religious Life: Revisiting the Vision.


The Dominicans who were on Oprah have 100 women signed up already for the discernment weekend coming up later this month.


They run two grade schools.

8 years 11 months ago
I am often disturbed by these media profiles of religious women and priests. Always, we must be informed by these profiles, that some of these nuns were Pharmacists and CEO's. Padre, please take no offense, but how often are we advised that you went to Wharton? I am equally disturbed by websites of religious orders who are wont to tell us of the important stations religious women held in secular life, prior to entering convent life. It seems that unless you gave up brain surgery for God, well, who cares? Whatever happened to the glory of understanding one's sinfulness and the need for Mercy, someone realizing their humble station in life before God? St. Alphonsus Rodrigues SJ comes to mind. He was a brother in the Society. Not a theologian. A humble porter with very little education, without whom, St. Peter Claver's Sainthood might never have been. Would Oprah have been interested in St. Alphonsus Rodriguez SJ ? Would websites proudly proclaim that they had a uneducated porter in the hosue? I think not. Should not the secular world be led to love God through the examples of humility in our priests and religious life? We should not be surprised. Secularism inserts itself even in religious and priestly life.
Joseph Farrell
8 years 11 months ago
I can understand your view, Maria, but I see it a somewhat different way.  I am well aware of Father Martin's impressive background before joining the Jesuits and it is a real inspiration to me.  Hearing about people like Father Martin and these sisters is important for the world today.
In a society that would have us believe that those who join religious and priestly life are backwards, unenlightened, and dull, it is wonderful to see those who found success in life (by modern society's standard) leaving for something more fulfilling.
The stories of priests like Father Martin played a sizable role in my decision to leave a good career and enjoyable life to enter the seminary. I say bravo to these Dominicans and to holy people everywhere who find true success in living out Christ's message.
8 years 11 months ago
Chapter 5 1-5

"Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
through whom we have gained access (by faith) to this grace in which we stand, and we boast in hope of the glory of God".

Ought not we boast in Him rather than ourselves, our education or our careers? I quite agree with you that we should find joy with those who have have committed themselves to Christ. It is wonderful that this order is receving vocations; however, this order has also been heavily exposed in the media. We will see how many persevere. There is much, spiritually, to be said for a hidden life. I would argue for a slightly different emphasis. I just think the Glory should be all His. If vocation is grace, was no one called by a desire for penance or reparation ? Or was the world tried and found simply wanting? Or is everyone a clever saint, with an MD/PhD/MBA after their name, BEOFRE they enter??? The spirit that compels one to seek the face of God in religious life seems far more important than one's worldly endeavors.
8 years 11 months ago
Said another way: the attraction to religious life should be to Christ, not the person. In that person committed to religious life, we should see Christ. We ought not be enamored by something other than Christ.
8 years 11 months ago
And Mary said: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord NOT LOOK HOW SMART I WAS AND WHAT I DID IN THE WORKLD;

my spirit rejoices in God my savior.

For he has looked upon his handmaid's lowliness-NOT MY DEGREES OR WHERE I WENT TO SCHOOL, INSTEAD HE HAS GRACED ME WITH A VOCATION-A GIFT; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.


His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him.

He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.

He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly.

The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty.

He has helped Israel his servant, remembering his mercy,

according to his promise to our fathers, to Abraham and to his descendants forever."

Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.

God calls. Not Oprah Winfrey or the nuns on her program. I don't decide. God does, by freely imparting a gift. I can accept it or walk away from it.
Helena Loflin
8 years 11 months ago
With all the rampant dumbing down of American society today (creationism, climate change denial, FOX News, etc., etc.), it's a pleasure to witness celebration of authentic intelligence and competitive accomplishment, neither of which are particularly or exclusively secular.  All types of achievement offer inspiration and an antidote for toxic ideological anti-intellectualism.   
8 years 11 months ago
Gosh, Maria, how can any one christian be so uncharitable?

While you Catholics squabble, this agnostic will point out that Oprah did not visit the Dominican nuns, she visited the Dominican Sisters of Mary. A very sensitive difference to most religious.
Jason Welle
8 years 11 months ago
That's a fantastic profile.  Oprah asked honest questions that a lot of people, especially non-Catholics, are curious about, and the openness of the sisters will be great for vocations to the religious life.  The profile showed women who had entered after careers, and women who entered at 18.  Best of all, it showed that religious life doesn't have to be dour and unhappy-these women were outgoing and joyful.  Even if you wanted to make a claim that the taped portions were staged, you can't stage the obvious and deep happiness that the women exhibited in speaking with Oprah.  All of them showed their commitment to Christ, both in their words and in their evidently joyful spirit.
8 years 11 months ago
I think the point here is that the religious life isn't closed to just a select few - that God calls everyone, and that we come to this life from many different places. 
The history of the Church is replete with men and women who walked away from their old life to embrace something radical and new - whether it was fishing, soldiering, fornicating or, God forbid, studying business at Wharton. 
Or, to quote James Joyce: here comes everyone. 
Deacon Greg
Gerelyn Hollingsworth
8 years 11 months ago
The silhouette on their web site looks like the work of the (late) great Dominican scissors artist, Sr. M. Jean Dorcy, but I don't see where they give her credit for it.
Joe Garcia
8 years 11 months ago
I find it intriguing - and, frankly, a touch distressing - that many people seem compelled to take a lovely thing such as this entry on the Oprah videos, to launch into philippics.
The only way for us to sense what God has called us to do is by sensing, either His absence or presence. To state this, with humility, is a good and desirable thing. Whether it's Fr. Martin or Fr. Corapi, to state that what is generally viewed by the world as "success" isn't what God had planned for a given person. To choose to turn away from these things is a light that ought not be hidden under the proverbial bushel.
Personally, I am quite pleased Fr. Martin attended Wharton, as it is high time a Jesuit was acquainted with the manfest glory that is an Abner cheesesteak.


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