I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for women religious. Maybe you do, too. It’s not surprising. I’ve known so many who have been my teachers, spiritual directors, confidants, role models and friends. And, of course, so many of my saintly heroes have been women religious: St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Katharine Drexel, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, and on and on and on. Plus, their simple lives, their prophetic witness and their indomitable courage have inspired me to be a better religious myself. Maybe that’s why this video moved me. It’s from the Sisters of Providence of St. Mary-of-the Woods, in Indiana, and it shows sisters expressing their gratitude for the benefactors who made the renovations to their retirement home, Providence Hall, possible. In an earlier video one sister was thankful for a private bath, something that many religious don't have in their lives, for example.
I wonder how many Catholics know that the sisters’ orders (as well as, more broadly, religious orders, including those with brothers and priests) struggle to support their aging members. Most people assume that religious orders have pots and pots of money. But the sisters in particular were often paid a pittance for their work (in elementary and high schools, parishes and hospitals) and so now are often quite poor. That’s why I think that donating to your favorite order (who taught you, tutored you, nursed you, helped run—or is helping to run--your parish) is such a good idea. A donation to the Retirement Fund for Religious is a good place to start. And if you have any doubts of whether or not it’s appreciated, watch this video.
James Martin, SJ