Documentaries turn the camera on sisters

Bound for Peru

A growing number of films focusing on the lives of women religious are currently drawing viewer interest across the United States.

- NCR Online

'The Nuns on the Bus movement sponsored by NETWORK and the [Leadership Conference of Women Religious] dialogue with the Vatican has brought religious women within a secular spotlight and has sparked people's curiosity,' said Charity Sr Rejane Cytacki of Leavenworth, Kansas. 'Now is a time of renewed interest about how religious sisters live and work.'

Along with Mary Fishman's film Band of Sisters, which is currently showing across the country, news about other documentaries profiling women religious has been circulating around the Internet and social media.

Sisters, produced by Robert Gardner along with Mercy Sr Carol Rittner, profiles the stories of five sisters from different communities and is currently available on Vimeo.com. 'Women and Spirit' showed to limited audiences on NBC affiliate stations in several states in September and October. Sponsored by LCWR, that documentary tells the history of women's communities in the US.

NCR contributor Sr Rose Pacatte, a member of the Daughters of St. Paul, recently wrote about Trailblazers in Habits, a film that portrays the work of the Maryknoll sisters.

Fishman says she believes Band of Sisters is a source of hope for young people who have their lives ahead of them to do the work women religious have been doing since the foundation of their U.S. communities. Further, she says, there is still much for Catholics to learn about the changes sisters made after Vatican II.

'You have the very powerful images of convent life prior to Vatican II, contrasted with contemporary sisters in a life of activism for social justice, but with a deep contemplative underpinning,' Fishman said. 'I think that most lay Catholics and people of other faiths had no clue about how and why sisters stopped wearing habits and living in convents.'

Writing about Trailblazers in Habits, Pacatte said: 'this 65-minute documentary is filled with wonderful footage, photos and interviews about "extraordinary women doing extraordinary things," beginning with the foundation of the Maryknoll Sisters in 1912, just a few months after the beginning of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers.'

Photo: Mercy Sisters board a plane bound for Peru in a historical image shown in the documentary Band of Sisters

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Documentaries turn the camera on sisters

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