Mission Years, 1960-1966

Torn Asunder

When we came back from our trip to Canada, Dor and I found that we had been separated. I was sent to our college to teach, and Dor remained at Noll, where Christopher Marie (Eleanor Fails) had been assigned to take over drama with her (and did a marvelous job, I must add). It was a major disappointment for me. I didn't think going to the college now was anything special. St. Mary's students' lives now seemed dull compared with the lives of the students at Noll. No, I would rather have remained with the eager high school students.

After the success of our joint productions at Noll, we wondered that the the superiors would separate such a winning combination. But our local house had never so much as complimented us for our efforts there (perhaps Sr. Holy Innocents did). I noticed the difference when the reception of our summer play at St. Mary's was so favorable.. There was a mission ethos that discouraged involvement with the students--involvement with the nuns, on the other hand, was seen as wonderful.

Why had I been transferred? Did the sisters complain that Dor and I were not spending enough time taking the older sisters to their doctors' appointments? Sr. Cecile Marie told us that the other nuns regarded Dor and me as "a whirlwind". We had too much energy; they couldn't take it. I worried myself much over this transfer. On the one hand I had failed to convince them of the value of what I was doing ; and they on the other hand had failed to appreciate it. It seemed like they set out to thwart young sisters. Why could the older nuns do "their thing" , as I had observed from my earliest days on mission, and not I, especially when "my thing" was working with the students and bringing them out? Were indulgences allowed only the old? Was working overtime with students something that needed an indulgence? Why were they allowed their pets and cliques and escapes on shopping trips to Chicago or South Bend with their friends while I was not allowed to spend my time with the students. Did they sense I was critical toward them for not doing something? Was that it?

Working with students was freeing; they had no complexes or problems. They raised no objections but were always eager for new projects they might participate in. I felt a positive energy flowing from and into them, but with the older sisters I felt negative energies that depleted me. Perhaps my later choice of living alone was produced by those years living in community, I did not want to be impeded by to others' negative energies.

How this process of digging up memories can be dangerous

Going back and opening up old memories is a dangerous pastime; stirring up old unresolved feelings is opening a Pandora's box. One re-experiences all the buried emotions, but once they have broken loose and resurfaced, after the pain, a new perspective may come. They may even vanish under the light. As I look back on those times, I see how easily I felt rejected. I always wanted what I did to be approved by authorities. I realize now that I granted "rights of approval" too broadly. Approval from those who were closest to me and counted most wasn't enough; for some reason I could not discriminate and persisted in hoping to please people who would never be pleased, people who had problems of their own. I also now realize that I wanted to control everything-not only my actions but the responses of others as well.

I am also finding that summoning the memory of these former students is revitalizing. Their energies are still there, especially where I have pictures to bring them back.

How I found out about Christian Culture at St. Mary's, 1960-1961

Being transferred from Noll was one of the hardest changes I went through during those years on mission; perhaps it was my first step out of the community. I had loved the students at Noll, had enabled them to become successful, had identified with them, had given them the best I had to offer, but, without consulting me, Sr. Madeleva had stepped in and chosen to put me into the Christian Culture program, now that I had a Master's Degree from Notre Dame.
The Christian Culture program was new at St. Mary's, started by Bruno Schlesinger. It was based on Christopher Dawson's idea that universities offered students a lot of historical knowledge about the unity of Graeco-Roman culture (philosophy, art, architecture, history, literature, etc.) but nothing about the the unity of Western Culture that came after that, which he called "Christian Culture." He hoped some colleges would remedy that, and gave his blessings to Bruno when he founded a program called "Christian Culture" at St. Mary's in 1956. The program covered the Medieval period up to the present, showing how Christianity shaped and influenced art, architecture, philosophy, theology, literature. It was an ambitious program that aimed at looking at the various disciplines in the humanities from the perspective of historical Christianity.|

The fact that an MA in English was no preparation for a program that was essentially history didn't dawn on me at the time, for I knew little about the program. There was a certain literature component, e.g., an Irish Dominican (probably a theologian) was teaching a course on James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, a work which I had studied and written about, and was actually prepared to teach. Did Sr. Madeleva imagine that I might eventually fit in there? For the time being, where would Bruno put me? He knew I wasn't a historian, though I was good at art history--but that was his field. He or someone assigned me to teach the Fathers of the Church. (Why hadn't one of the Dominican priests taught it, I wondered later. Was this another case that the youngest got assigned the classes no one else wanted?)

Broadly educated though I thought myself to have been, I had never taken a course in Fathers of the Church at Notre Dame, if they had one, or anyplace else. (This was perhaps a first time undergraduate offering on any Catholic college campus.) Clement of Alexandria, Origen and Tertullian were probably beyond the knowledge of all but those who had gotten PhD's in Church History at the time. It was all very mysterious. Other faculty in my age group were being sent off to graduate school, even to Louvain. Yet I was given not even a semester to get acquainted with the program. I was just assigned into it as if I were an expert in Church history. I trusted the Holy Spirit to fill up my deficiency as usual. While I was teaching the course, I was also taking other C. C. courses with the students whom I was teaching. Once I learned what the program was all about in joint seminars and was taking the Christian Archaeology course, of course I loved the program. It was just the systematic approach to learning that I had loved. Cardinal Newman would have been delighted. But just before exams, Sr. Loretto the superior told me sweetly that the students ("the cream of the crop") thought I was teaching the course wrong ("like a literature course"), and of course they knew the difference, and the program was trying to get off to a good start ("the fair-haired child of the curriculum"). The Holy Spirit had let me down. I was going to be switched to the English department second semester.

The English department

Since I had left St. Mary's in 1952, the chair of the faculty of the English department had changed from the kindly Sr. Miriam Joseph to the condescending Sr. Franzita. She could see no need for new faculty at the time, and had probably not been consulted about my appointment, so she was not happy with my sudden appearance on her doorstep. She told me that since I had to teach something, I could teach the World Literature and writing components of the Trivium course to freshman, where, presumably, I could do the least damage. "Don't worry," I tried to reassure her, "I have taught this before to the postulants." "I am not worried," she told me coolly, to let me know how little she concerned herself with me. I felt like a high school teacher (mostly a math teacher at that) who has been thrust in among the college English teachers, most of whom had PhD's and took themselves seriously. I threw myself into the new course with my usual zeal and got up syllabi on world literature. I assigned relevant papers and enjoyed teaching the class. I thought my lectures were inspiring, and one student, June Root, said wonderful things about my class to Sr. Mary Immaculate. But I imagined Sr. Franzita, who had a certain cachet for sarcastic wit, rolling her eyes and putting it out that she had gotten stuck with me. I was a liability as far as she was concerned.

I realized that many of the nuns on the college staff did not actually have much respect for "nuns." Though nuns themselves they could scarcely bear to spend any time with the rest of the community; they retired to their cubicles. Sr. Madeleva gave occasional talks in which she too seemed contemptuous of nuns. Sr. Marie Renata replaced her that year, I believe, as president, and she too spoke contemptuously of us. I was beginning to get an inferiority complex at the very fountain of my vocation. Sr. Mary Immaculate, Sr. Verda, Sr. Rose Ellen and Sr. Marie Rosaire were my only close friends among the college faculty. There was a clique there, that included an old college classmate Marg Habig, known as Sr. Michaela, dean of students, and her best friend Sr. Anne Monica, (Mary T. Egerer, who was later to be my colleague at Chicago State for many years). She had a PhD from Harvard, and was Madeleva's traveling companion. I still remember Marg telling me one night in the college community room, that I had to "stretch" myself. Did she mean that I should stretch myself from being a high school teacher to a college teacher? Or did she mean that I still had the "good sister" mentality (of my Miss Lutz and Sr. Frances de Sales days) and should stretch myself out of my nun straitjacket and have a drink with them? If I were going to become sophisticated and worldly, why stay in a religious community?

Forsaking all of them, I spent my time in the art studio with Norman Laliberte and Sr. Marie Rosaire, and there I was happy and felt like my old self. Jim Cronin was then teaching theatre at St. Mary's, directing The King and I and he and Laliberte had collaborated on a film, influenced by the Canadian film maker Norman McLaren. Laliberte went on to make a wonderful film Venezia, with the many domes and spires and artistic motifs of Venice, set to lilting Venetian music. One day Sr. Loretto came in and found me working on some art project that Norman or Marie Rosaire had going, possibly making things for the Art Fair, and she said, "Ah! At last we've found what you're good at." Needless to say that wasn't reassuring to someone who thought she was an intellectual. I felt she meant that I couldn't be a scholar but I could be a craftsperson.

Besides the art studio, as usual I found diversion with the students. I was assigned to be on floor duty in the evenings overseeing freshmen in Holy Cross Hall. Into my little cubicle at night wandered the most delightfully silly and irreverend freshmen girls, whom I got to know well and who shared their stories with me. Ellen and Mary were my darlings among the freshman. Among the seniors in Christian Culture I remained close to senior Patty Crotty and even had something to do with her marriage to Tim Crowley after graduation.

How I was transferred to Schlarman H. S.in Danville, Illinois, 1961-1963 and how I fared there.

Needless to say, I was not surprised when, after a delightful summer of 1961 at St. Mary's taking theology courses and playing the French horn in an all-nun orchestra started by Sr. Selina (Dor played the saxaphone), I was transferred from St. Mary's to Schlarman High School in Danville, Illinois, not far from Urbana, the campus of the University of Illinois. It was a small house, and all the nuns were familiar ones I knew and liked: Sr. Leo Blanche (Latin), Sr. Celene (chorus and band), Sr. Cyril (math and science), Sr. Lenore (library and Spanish, football players), Sr. John Joseph (senior sponsor , history ). New unprofessed nuns were Sr. Johnilda (Freshmen sponsor and English 2 and 3) and Sr. Conrada (math). No, the problem in Danville was not the nuns, but the priest, Father Charles Kelley, the male-chauvinist principal.

I was assigned to the yearbook, The Summit, and was given the senior class as my homeroom, where I recognized right away another group of talented seniors. Seeing their energy and talent, hearing that there was nothing going on but sports and music for extra-curricular activities, it wasn't enough to do the yearbook with them, I would put on a variety show, sponsored by the yearbook. To get them interested in drama, I took them to see My Fair Lady at the Schubert Theatre in downtown Chicago. Class president, Pat Wolgamot, became the yearbook editor and assistant producer of the variety show. When I look at the yearbook pictures of the talented students there, I remember them well from the variety show. The cast included Pat as Shelley Berman, Tim Sullivan as Jonathan Winters, John James as Bob Newhart, Mike Gordon, Dave Mayoras, John Meyer, and Dan Jackson as The Four Winds, a chorus line of dancers: Pat Ready, George Girouard, Tuck Meyer, Tom Grites, Mike Gordon, Dave Kirk, Dan Jackson, Bob Lang, John Meyer, Tom Young, Dave Mayoras, Mike LaTourelle, Virgil Campbell and Sue Federspiel, Susanne Wise, Rebecca Wilson and others. The dances included a Charleston number and a Black Bottom, as well as a Sailors' dance, and a rousing When the Saints Come Marching In finale.

It was a big hit, but probably too much for Fr. Kelley. He had focused entirely on sports at Schlarman and neglected all these other talented people. And here they suddenly burst out their senior years, singing and dancing. He decided to put a stop to me then and there. He told Sr. Marie Jeanne, our superior, that I was a worldly nun who had been seen hoisting my skirts and teaching the students how to do the charleston. Was that anyway for a nun to behave? She gave me a talking to, making me feel that I wasn't even ladylike, much less nunlike, in my behavior. She was too late. I no longer respected nunlike behavior; I no longer wanted to be like Miss Lutz or Sr. Frances de Sales. I wanted to be like Sr. Joseph Frances at Noll--a creative force drawing out the students' creativity. She campused me. The only social event I remember outside the convent for the rest of that year was a visit from my old high school friend Norman Shetler, who was living in Vienna where he had established himself as a concert pianist and accompanist to lieder singers. His visit cheered me up and depressed me at the same time. I began reading Russian novels.

How I worked on my modus vivendi at Schlarman

After another summer in the orchestra at St. Mary's and some further classes at ND, I was sent back to Schlarman. There the restrictions continued. I was made to conform to hours that only the oldest sisters observed--leaving campus right after class and staying at home in the convent. Fr. Kelley had told Sr. Marie Jeanne that he wanted me to have no further part in any extra curricular activities involving students. What could I do? |

In confession I told the priest that I hated Fr. Kelley, and the confessor asked why I was letting him dominate my soul. He told me to get a modus vivendi that ignored him. I worked on my modus vivendi, I retired into art and literature. I practised the French horn. I read more Russian novels, identifying with the suffering Russian soul. I must have taught the juniors, for I knew Earlene Gaudio and her boyfriend Dick McIntyre. At Christmas I decorated the community tree with blue and green Christmas ornaments and made a chain of blue and green links with help from the young math teacher, Sr. Conrada. For Valentines day I made a Valentine castle (a fort in which I was confined) with pictures of the faculty that I had from the yearbook hiding behind every window. I still suffered from Fr. Kelley's rejection, for I had accorded him the right to be an authority over me and wanted his approval.

Teaching Sophomore English was another part of my modus vivendi. Probably it was not part of the requirement, but I wanted the sophomores to be exposed to Greek myths and epics, so I did cuttings from the Iliad as well as some favorite myths-Cupid and Psyche, The Twelve Labors of Hercules, Echo and Narcissus, Orpheus and Eurydice, Daedalus and Icaus, Prometheus, the story of Atlanta, the Bride of Pluto (Demeter and Persephone). We acted them out in class, with a narrator. We acted out Julius Caesar too. One of my favorite students in that class was Mike Filisky, who did the narration of the myths. He had a way with words and he and his pal Jerry Pubantz made me laugh with their clever banter. Mike has gotten in touch with me again after all these years. He reminded me that I passed out mint lifesavers and had the students write a description, from the viewpoint of an alien. Mike and pal Jerry Pubantz composed monographs upon the lifesaver. Both now have PhD's and are at universities in the East. Michael reminded me also that I had slipped him a clandestine copy of J D Salinger's Catcher in the Rye, banned at that time (1962) in Catholic high schools. He claimed it changed his life; he switched from science to theater. And he wrote a paper about me in a graduate class. (Note: Mike passed away in 2007, but I am in contact with his wife Ingrid Bartinique and his charming and talented daughter Marina Filisky, who is at Skidmore.)

A savior arrived that year and helped my modus vivendi. My brother Joe was getting a master's degree in architecture at the University of Illinois, and with his wife Pat and their son Michael, was living nearby in Urbana. Joe and I had become very close during my annual home visits to Kansas City. I drove over to Urbana one Satuday morning with Mike Filisky and Jerry and we spent the day painting the walls with characters from Alice in Wonderland. Their daughter was born in Urbana that spring and given the family name Mary Rose.

Finally my modus vivendi could take it no longer. I couldn't stand the thought of going back to Schlarman another year, so I got a ride to South Bend to talk to Mother Verda Clare to tell her my feelings and ask her to transfer me. She advised me to pray. I did and it worked! The next August I was transferred to Marian Central in Woodstock. I was replaced at Schlarman by Sr. Benedict Labre (Pat Geraghty). Fr. Kelley suspected her of being as bad as I was; he listened to her classes and tried to interfere with her too. She left from Schlarman the next year, when the freshmen class I had know, with Patrick Grady, were seniors.

Marian Central H. S., Woodstock, Illinois, 1963-1965

That summer break was marvelous. Film societies were the latest thing; ND had one, showing foreign films in Washington Hall. I had always loved films, even before I went to St. Mary's, so I jumped at the chance to take a film course at ND from Ed Fisher. Through that class I met John O'Hala, the editor of the Notre Dame Dome and the head of the Notre Dame film society. He was very knowledgeable about foreign films, yearbooks (he introduced me to the mosaic layout that I used on the Schlarman yearbooks), depth of field in photography, Chinese poetry. He expanded my imagination. He became friends with Marie Rosaire and the art teachers and students at St. Mary's.

I carried that expanding self with me to Woodstock, Ill., in McHenry County, northwest of Chicago. The superior there was Sr. Elizabeth Ann, who had been my superior before in Michigan City and whom I admired. She was open, interested in all the students and a supporter of creative teachers. There were a lot of familiar faces: Sr. Maria (history), Sr. Lenore (librarian), Sr. Marie Imelda (math), Sr. Rose Vincent (physics and chemistry), Sr. Pauline (French), Sr. Alberta Marie (English, History), Sr. Ruberta (Latin), Sr. Marie Emile (French, English), Sr. Dolorine (Latin), Sr. Holy Innocents (commerce).

I think of Woodstock as "county." People around that area, in McHenry County, have horses. There was (is) even a Woodstock Opera House where Tolstoy had lectured. Connected with the Opera House was a group of enthusiastic culture mavens headed by Esther Stewart, the manager of the House, who thought my idea of showing art films at the Opera House was great, so we founded a film society. At school I found a congenial group of sophisticated, mature and creative seniors to work on the yearbook Memorare, including Sue Pawlikowski, Mike Linder , Margaret Gallagher, Ron Reckamp. I still have the two yearbooks I oversaw while I was there. We used the mosaic layout that John had taught me. Senior Mike Linder, an artist, on the staff of the yearbook, (one of the students interested in forming the film society), became the yearbook's photography editor and went around with the photographer, arranging the quirky poses that made that yearbook win an award and making sure that there were deep shadows and odd angles, a la Citizen Kane. Mike later went to Hollywood and became a film producer. John O'Hala came out occasionally from his home in Highland Park to visit me and talk to the yearbook staff.



By then, my creative self was completely revitalized, thanks to the Art Department at St. Mary's, to Sr. Marie Rosaire, John O'Hala, and the students at Noll, Schlarman and Marian Central. I carried over Sr. Marie Rosaire's art fair concept to Marian Central. I taught a "humanities" course that sponsored the art fair. We made "ticky-tacky boxes," stuffed dolls, banners, and other items similar to ones Sr. Marie Rosaire and her students had made to sell at the St. Mary's Art Fair. Mike Linder was especially delightful, hilarious and helpful. The Memorare had a booth at Mardi Gras, entitled "Le Café des Jeunes Artistes," with a chanson singer, an artist painting portraits, and Mike Linder as a starving artist.

The students at Marian Central shared my enthusiasms, meeting one of my deepest needs. For many years my style of relating (and teaching) was to press upon others my enthusiasms--whether it was for art, plays, movies, writers. And these students responded! I believe it was that year that I took the seniors to Chicago to see Tom Jones. In Schlarman Father Kelley would have balked, but no one in Woodstock batted an eye. The next semester we went to see A Man for All Seasons at the Blackstone.

How I got caught up into psychology

The years I had had at Schlarman made me turn within to try to understand myself psychologically. I longed for self-knowledge and understanding and control of my emotions. I needed counseling. Fortunately, help was on its way.
This was the year of the Second Vatican Council. Religious women were all being asked to answer questions about religious life; we heard about "sister formation," and "reforms." Seminaries were beginning to reform--Fr. Putz became rector of Moreau Seminary and changed everything there. Our band turned out to have some great reformers, including some right there with me at Marian Central--Sr. Alberta Marie with Sr. Kathleen Dolores (Gretchen O'Brien). Everybody had good ideas and we talked about them constantly. Among the chief reforms was the realization that we were more than just cogs in the wheels of big community enterprises. We were persons. On Becoming a Person by Carl Rogers was the number one best-seller at Marian Central that year.

Pop psychology was becoming big. These were the sixties, after all. Right there at Marian Central there was a group that read Carl Rogers and discussed their feelings with Fr. Daniel Tranel. Seniors like Margaret Gallagher, Sue Pawlikowski and Ron Reycamp and faculty members like Sr. Kathleen Dolores had already been in it for a year.. I joined the year I arrived, feeling emotionally about the same age as the seniors who were in my classes. I felt emotionally retarded in their company; I knew about art and literature but I knew little about counseling or psychology. The seniors were way ahead of me. They understood and could talk about their feelings freely and eloquently. I couldn't. My solution as always was "take a class in it." So I went to Loyola.

How I joined Fr. Curran's Language Study Group

At Loyola Father Charles Curran, a Jesuit, had a discussion group, perhaps the prototype for our group at Marian Central. The group, which had been running for five years, was composed of lay people, several priests (Fr. Tranel and his brother), some seminarians, but no nuns. It wasn't just a plain old discussion group. It was a language-learning discussion group. Members were learning Spanish, French, Italian and German -all at the same time. Of course, everyone was at different levels; beginners were like children; those who were more advanced were like counselors, while the most advanced were experts. We were allowed, even encouraged to regress to whatever infantile level we were at in each language. Fr. Curran hoped that we would thus get in touch with our elemental feelings, learn to trust those more "grown up" than ourselves. We all had permission of the group--indeed, we were expected-- to tell each other how we felt about what the other did or said, as children would, honestly.

Through Father Tranel I got into this course in the spring, continuing on into the summer. Realizing I needed one-on-one counseling, I went to Fr. Tranel, who was counseling others in the group. It was okay for nuns to talk to priests about their private thoughts and feelings--was that different from confession? Fr. Tranel was trained professionally in Rogerian psychology to listen to whatever people said to him, to understand, and reflect his understanding back to them. I read up on this method was explained in Carl Rogers book, On Becoming a Person.

How I got into "helping relationships"

I was the only nun in the language group, but that didn't bother me a bit. It has always been easy for me to join groups that share an interest I have, irregardless of age, class, gender, identity, status, etc. . I affiliate more on an interest basis than on anything external. I looked forward to the class. Little did I know what I was letting myself in for.

Around this time I began keeping journals, so I know a lot--too much perhaps?--about what I was going through during that time. The language study group had been together five years. I came in way behind the rest and didn't know the rules. I didn't regress to an infantile level as Fr. Curran hoped. I stayed behind the barricade of my habit. Fr. Curran especially wanted to break down my nun-like equilibrium. He couldn't break me down or throw me off balance. I kept the barricades up until I felt I could trust; I wouldn't give my trust without a lot of assurances and the way everyone talked so freely in the class about what they felt frightened me. I was not prepared to drop all my defenses before people I had just met. But that was Curran's point-we had to trust. I was a tempting target--a nun hiding behind the barricade of her habit. Fr. Curran harried me, tried to throw me off balance. I felt he was labeling me, projecting onto me his stereotyped image of a nun and jumping on me for that; I didn't let him get to me, however, so he called me "aloof and inaccessible, an iceberg." He wanted to "get my wimple flying," i.e., get physical, like the drama coach. Didn't he know that the community had made me smooth down my wimple and conceal my bodily feelings or energies, that I could express them only when I needed to. They weren't simply available to be called up by anyone, not by him.

But I was learning something about myself. Perhaps, as he said, I was too aloof, too Cartesian; my body and soul separated. If anything, he made me dislike my nunliness even more. I would have liked to break down before them all. But instead of breaking down or even flying off at him, I questioned him, probed him, nagged him, which made him mad. He claimed I was "sadistic." But he had put me into a position where I had to probe. I was put on the spot to reveal my feelings; instead I gave my ideas. He wanted my feelings, not my ideas. When I said I didn't know the difference between an idea and a feeling, he said I was selling myself out to win an argument. He said I probably would always use as an excuse that I didn't understand. I picked on him for answers until he put me onto Fr. Tranel to dig out of him what we were up to. At the end of each session we were supposed to tell the group how we felt during the experience of the class. I finally said I enjoyed it. It was fun. They weren't satisfied; I should have said why. I wondered if they even believed me.

When a member, Mary Mills, objected to his insensitive way of baiting people like me, he turned on her. She called herself a "conscientious objector." He wouldn't let her hide behind a label. She had to explain why she was objecting. We all had to explain why we did or said everything. We couldn't hide behind our own labels or use cliches without thinking. We couldn't assume the group would pardon us. Mary couldn't get at her feelings either, but her way of dealing with it was to not show up for next class. Fr. Curran called her a "suicide," who left us to make us feel guilty, make us hold a 'wake" for her, he claimed. I felt like my personality, or the personality I had constructed to protect myself, was under attack, was disintegrating. Later I reassured myself that because Fr. Curran was keeping after me, investing a lot in me, he must have wanted to save me, must have felt I was worth the effort. I didn't feel worth all this effort. I wrote in my journal, "I felt like a drowning person and every time I came up for air, he would push me down under again; he was trying to knock me out of commission. In a way I knew I could lean on Fr. Tranel's forgiveness and understanding. Mary Mills--he pushed her under and she just sank to spite him; she stayed down." But I couldn't say that in front of the group. I couldn't trust them all, only Fr. Tranel. The vulnerable way that I felt made me turn to Fr. Tranel seeking reassurance. Knowing that he was there watching me take the attack made me seek to talk to him privately. When Fr. Tranel asked me how I felt in the class and I told him I felt like I was drowning, he said that was a description, not a feeling. I could only convey feelings through images and descriptions or through attacking by questioning the object of my fears (Fr. Curran). I only wanted to know in self-defense. Usually I tended not to consult people, not to reveal my needs, not to "become incarnate," as Fr. Curran called it. I asked factual questions to get information. From years in the convent, I was afraid to ask deeper questions, perhaps, for fear of hearing the answers. I opted for safety in conversations, not for dangerous open-ended questions.

Fr. Curran's class was having an effect on me. He called me "that tough nun." He told me I had a hard time accepting that people were really angry at me. It was just getting to me by trickles. Was I screening it out and only slowly and selectively letting in what people thought of me? What I was hearing was that I should be weak, let people see me stripped of my props (my analytical mind), show people my need for them, rather than appearing strong as if I didn't need anyone. My main defense was what I knew. Should I act as if I didn't know? Was allowing ourselves to regress and show infantile feelings really a good idea? Once I tried to reveal my true feelings to my parents during one of their annual visits. They thought I was crazy, talked about me as if I were a mental case, as if I weren't there, asking if something had happened to me, if living in seclusion was getting to me When I visited my family that year and played with my nephews, I who used to play the guitar and sing-their very own singing nun, was tentative and unsure. My sister thought that I wasn't as much fun as before. I was groping with my own innards, twisting my own mind. My courage at this time was all stoic: My head was bloody but unbowed. Outwardly I kept a rigid control; inwardly I was seething with anxiety and fear.

How I became worried about myself

I read Emotional Hazards in Animals and Man and was alarmed to see analogies between my situation and those of animals whose nature had been suppressed, their movement restricted, and their inhibitions stimulated by fear. I felt that I was reading about myself and the effects upon me of restriction and fear and daily conditioning. I was like the sheep so conditioned to restraint that even when the restraint was no longer there, put restraints on itself and was no longer free. "If the experimenter subjects it to the hazards of monotony, confusion or overstimulation, the development of various emotional incapacities can be expected. (Me?)" I had many emotional incapacities . "Under the stress of daily conditioning, he is at the experimenter's signal thrown into a state of rigid immobility. Then at other signals the animal reverses itself and responds explosively with vehement movements and aggressive behavior." Wasn't this similar to my controlling myself rigidly in conversing with the sisters about trivia and at other times exploding in manic anger or laughter. I was becoming an emotional mess.

Back at Marian Central the next year, we were all trying to form "helping relationships". I saw Kathleen Dolores having a helping relationship with Father Tranel, long confidential talks. It must have helped her, for at the end of that year she left; she just disappeared. I was angry at her, feeling that she had abandoned us. We didn't give her any chance to explain why she was leaving; we denied that she had any valid reasons. I talked to Fr. Tranel about her leaving; he said she would have to work out a solution "out there," and perhaps a more realistic one. He said she would have a lot to offer in the future. Little did I know that my situation would be like hers within a year.

Leaving the Convent
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