WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- During the 1960s, California was the center for spiritual seekers from Indian gurus to New Age prophets and Scientologists.
- But the Immaculate Heart Sisters, a small community of Roman Catholic nuns was the unlikely place for personal and social transformation.
- These group of California nuns stood up to the Vatican Church climaxing in a showdown with the Catholic hierarchy.
The California nuns were members of the Daughters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Founded in Spain in 1848, ten nuns came to the U.S. in 1871 at the invitation of the bishop of California.
They began working with the poor at first, then focused on education later on. The California nuns began teaching in Los Angeles in 1886 and founded a high school and a college. Prince Harry’s fiancée, Meghan Markle graduated from high school there.
In the 60s, the sisters encouraged individual experimentation, rather than follow the norm that they all needed to pray, study or meditate in the same way or at the same time. They wanted the freedom to decide when, where and how to worship together.
The California nuns requested respite from the Catholic Church mandates that controlled their daily activities, ranging from what they wore, which books to read, and what time they sleep.
The nuns celebrated a Promulgation Day on October 14, 1967. A new vision for their lives and their work.
Los Angeles’ Cardinal McIntyre however, was not too happy about this “renewal”. His first concern was the street clothes the nuns said they might wear while teaching. He did not agree to the order’s plan for renewal. The cardinal even doubted their commitment to the Church. In June 1968, he forbade the nuns to teach in the city’s Catholic schools.
Formal cases to the Vatican were presented by both the sisters and the cardinal. The Vatican sided with the cardinal.
But the sisters didn’t give up their vision for religious renewal. 350 of the 400 nuns began planning a new lay community outside the Church. Many of the Immaculate Heart sisters had decided to renounce their vows and reorganize as a lay community. They called their new group, the Immaculate Heart Community by the start of 1970.
The Immaculate Heart Sisters created a new vision of religious community. Their sources include reforms of the Second Vatican Council, writings of California’s humanist psychologists, women’s liberation, the anti-war movement and the countercultural wave that rolled outside their convent door.
True to its promise of new possibilities, the California nuns continue to inspire a new generation of seekers in and out of the Catholic Church.
Source: Business Insider