Sr. Mary Ann Walsh on the Visitation

Sr. Mary Ann Walsh, RSM, is the tireless and talented director of media relations for the USCCB, who also writes the USCCB media blog.  When someone of her prominence starts to wonder about some of the aspects the Apostolic Visitation you should take notice.  Here's an excerpt: "Then I read a Catholic News Service story about the Apostolic Visitation of U.S. nuns that reported that I could confidentially contact the visitator with concerns I might have about my order. It made me wonder how we nuns are perceived. Is my happiness as a sister suspect? My lifestyle? Can’t I just e-mail my own head nun when I have concerns? I wonder what my family will think? Will the young adults who asked me to read at their weddings start to wonder about the aunt they think is special?"  Read her whole blogpost here, listed under the aptly named "A Nun Could Get Whiplash These Days." 

H/t to our friend and colleague David Gibson who, by the way, will soon be covering religion full-time for

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9 years 5 months ago
Where's the good sister's habit?
9 years 5 months ago
Well, I guess someone ought to comment on this posting. Seems sometimes you just can't do anything right or say the right things - I'm thinking of poor Mother Visitor mainly. But then on reading Sr. Mary Ann's statement I'm perplexed too; why does she keep referring to "nuns". Arn't nuns contemplative sisters and the word nun is reserved for them. And, then again, surely she realizes that often one cannot for many reasons, "...just e-mail my own head nun." Is that what one would do with a serious matter, anyway? Is that what sisters do? This sounds like a basis for further inquiry all by itself. And what's this being special stuff - where did Vatican II go?  Is Mary Ann making jest by all this? Surely she isn't serious - or is she.
9 years 5 months ago
There is a lot of speculation regarding how the visits will play out and what changes will come in their wake. The best way for sisters to get a handle on that and "perhaps" ease their minds is to look at the seminary visits which were conducted three years ago. Sisters may want to speak with sisters who worked in seminaries before, during and after that series of visits. There were changes-in house rules, hours of prayer, course content, teaching personnel and management. However, at that time Rome was relatively clear about what they wanted to see in seminaries and some seminaries began implementing such changes prior to the visits; others did not. In both cases, however, there were indeed changes and sometimes the rector was replaced. It might go a little easier on the sisters as it seems that Rome may not feel they're "as important" as priests-in-training. A lousy reason and definitely not true, but that may actually buffer things for the nuns. You'll survive. Hold your head up high and take heart in the fact that you're doing good work.
9 years 5 months ago
Let's see, the good sister has given her life to Christ, tirelessly works for good causes, director of media for the USCCB, contributor to America, writes the USCCB blog and is overall a great role model for all women and what is important to some trads? Where is her habit???  What a bunch!
9 years 5 months ago
It is with sadness that I note that two comments bring up the habit. And that changes exactly what?
I commented on the USCCB blog post written by Sr. Mary Ann, but I will leave a few words here as well and elaborate more.
As I just said on Michael Sean Winters' post - it seems to me that the visitation has created conditions for open season on many sisters.  What really bothers me - and this is with due respect to the comment by "a seminarian" above, is that this appears to be a very different kind of visitiation for the LCWR.  (Although his closing line is just perfect.)
There would be greater moral authority if there were more similarity in these visitations.  The sisters are being examined in many ways and the deck does seem a bit stacked. Perhaps Laurie Brink, OP took some steps too far with the LCWR, but this seems all a bit undue in response.
As for the work of Sr. Mary Ann as noted by Dr. Dale - would she be better serving the church if she were laundering Father's albs or teaching small children? The sisters - like the church itself is Catholic and catholic; many members, one body.
9 years 5 months ago
Fran, I think you misunderstood my comment, I was complaining about comment #1 asking sister about her habit.  The only thing important to most rubric worshipping trads is that she wear a habit, never mind all her good work.  Jesus said ''You shall know they are mine by the fruit of their labor'' not ''you shall know they are mine by the habit they wear''!  My comment ''What a bunch'' referred to the trads not the good sisters.
9 years 5 months ago
Dr. Dale  - mea culpa, I did misunderstand. *sigh* such are the issues of the internet for me and others... I must pay closer attention. I am sorry, thank you for clarifying!  Peace.
9 years 5 months ago
The apostolic visits, though little discussed in the media "after" they took place, were not easy on seminary faculty and seminarians-not because of the rigor of the questioning, but because of the flames they fanned. The apostolic visits created highly politicized situations in seminaries, where many faculty members were vying to present themselves as more orthodox than the faculty member sitting next to him at a board meeting or at a theological debate in front of the student body. Seminarians, for our part, were looked at by some faculty members as "on our side or on their side." For those of you who were not there, I'll tell you that it wasn't a very healthy situation, and it certainly wasn't what I had envisioned seminary education as being all about. Some seminarians (they're ordained now)  spoke proudly of maligning faculty members (some are gone now) in private interviews with the apostolic visitors-20 to 30 minute mandatory interviews we were all scheduled to take. The right won out, though to be accurate the tide had long favored such a result. The aftermath of all this is that now we'll have a generation of priests that is either decidedly slanted to the right (because they were looked at as "what Rome wants"), does not discern right from wrong in their own hearts, or simply lays low and/or lies to get ordained. All three of these groups are large within seminaries now. What a shame. What a lack of integrity we've chosen to foster. I sort of shiver when I think of some a woman who had an abortion 15 years ago or some gay teen-ager finally getting up the courage to go into one of my brothers' confessionals. Many would read these troubled people the riot act. What a shame. After the visits, the academic dean took me aside and told me, "I would never send any of my family or friends to any of these guys to cofession, but I'd send them to you in a heartbeat." One of the kindest things anyone has ever said to me, but a statement that points to what has become a very ill system. So, there you go: the view from the trenches that I didn't want to give.
9 years 5 months ago
A comment at (August 7 - Under the glass:  studying life in the Church) included a link to this America blog.  I read the first comment re ''Where is the good sister's habit'' and wrote a comment in response.  Concord Pastor asked if I had written the same comment at the America blog.  I hadn't.  As it is a bit lengthy, I won't repeat it here, but if anyone is interested please go to - Even if you don't read my comment, you have a treat in store for you.  A simply wonderful blog!


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