Sunday, June 11, 2017

Radical Grace: We Are All Nuns UPDATED

Screening of Radical Grace at the Hildegarden, Lake County, Ohio
Radical Grace is a film about three women religious: Sister Jean Hughes who worked with formerly incarcerated felons in Chicago; Sister Chris Schenk who founded FutureChurch here in Cleveland; and Simone Campbell of NETWORK and Nuns on the Bus fame.

Last night Sister Chris did Q & A for a screening here in Lake County at The Hildegard,  "a non-profit facility inspired by the creative genius of the 12th century German visionary Hildegard of Bingen. It is a center focused on holistic health and spirituality offering programs, retreats, speakers, and other activities to grow one’s mind, body, and spirit."

Sister Chris thought this was going to be a few simple interviews when she agreed to be part of it. But the film-making stretched  out over a long period of time, as event after event happened that affected the story. Chris said it was not easy trying to run an organization and a movement in front of the cameras. However she stuck with it because of her admiration for the deep spirituality of its director.

Rebecca Parish opens her Director's Statement with
I’m one of the “nones,” part of a growing demographic of religiously unaffiliated millennials. So I could never have predicted that I’d be making a film about… nuns.
Back in 2011, I didn’t set out to make a film about religion. What became Radical Grace started out as a project documenting unique acts of social justice.
Read  her whole statement here. You will need to scroll down the page! reports

"Our screening with Benzie County Democrats yesterday had over 250 attendees. Huge win for Radical Grace! Continue the conversation with us on Twitter - @RadGraceFilm - and let us know in the comments what city you want us to come to next!"

Could this become a Democratic organizing film?

Chris Shenk and Simone Campbell are certainly first rate organizers. That was apparent to me from the beginning. I had become a commenter at the PrayTell Blog, on March 29, 2010. That day the What If We Just Wait Petition had reached 20000 signatures. I was 20,001. The petition called for a halt to the implementation of the New Missal until it was "test marketed" in selective places. I became interested because there were more than 200 signatures from Cleveland. They had a good distribution among priests, religious, lay ministers, and people in the pews. A great beginning for a grass roots movement. Sure would liked to have gone to a meeting of 50 or 100 of those people here in Cleveland.  I continued to regularly comment on PrayTell for several more years; I also sent posts to Father Anthony, which he published.

On April 30, 2012 PrayTell published my tenth post Two Petitions Liturgy and Nuns. I asked the question of why the petition Support Our Sisters was doing so much better than the liturgy petition.

I did not answer the question. But one obvious answer is that the Sisters were far better at visible grass roots organizing efforts such as the Nuns on the Bus tour. The Democrats now have in this film a virtual Nuns on the Bus tour that they would take around county to county in places like Ohio. Here, they even have a local star in the film! This is a film by a religious unaffiliated millennial, maybe it could be as effective as Sanders in mobilizing them. He deliberately invoked Pope Francis.  I am not betting that the Democrats will take advantage of this opportunity. They will probably be like the liturgy people who missed the opportunity of 20,000 plus signatures to organize locally.

On August 5, 2012 PrayTell published my fourteenth post, Why We Are All Nuns: Catholic Pride Universal Call to Holiness. The answer to what was by that time a very successful media campaign was that it appealed to the universal call to holiness in everyone. We can recognize and identify with the good that the nuns have accomplished without being Catholics, or nuns, or women. Indeed in many ways the fact that they are not traditional clerical or male leaders brings them closer to us. In the film this is clearly expressed by Sister Jean Hughes, and the necessity she felt of being on the same level as the people she served, and the mutuality she found in doing that.


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  2. Benzie County is up north in Michigan. Like most of northwest Michigan, it attracts a lot of rich Chicagoans and Detroit execs who have big summer homes. I don't think of anyplace up there as a bastion of the Democratic Party. They went for Trump by 54 percent. Pretty much the whole West Side did.

  3. I watched the whole thing. Very impressive! One thing I didn't understand, was why the American nuns were singled out for the "apostolic visitation". Weren't European nuns involved in similar activities?

    1. All the actions of the Vatican against American nuns were instigated by American conservative bishops. Dolan and others didn't like the idea that the Nuns were involved in politics in a way different from him.

      The American nuns have also had a lot of influence on nuns around the world. I suspect there are many bishops elsewhere who would not like the idea of their nuns becoming as independent as the American Nuns.

      The reality is that American nuns more than anyone in the church took Vatican II seriously. It called for religious to completely rethink their lives in accordance with both their original charism, and the needs of contemporary life. Most bishops, priests and lay people did not do the equivalent.

  4. Also American nuns are wiling to speak up about the unfair way Pope Francis treats women (and children) ... What Activist Nuns Really Think About the Pope