Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sun. Oct. 21, 2012 (Rose Mewhort)

On October 21st, Rose Mewhort told her life story. In the 1970s, at the age of 21 and as a nun in The Sisters of Charity, Rose took up residence with other nuns in their convent, which later (1986) became The Menno Simons Centre. She worshiped daily in the convent's Our Lady's Chapel or attended Mass at other locations, depending on the availability of priests. Her order was known for its excellence in teaching, which is why the sisters in Halifax had been invited to Vancouver by the city's Archbishop. Rose, however, became a nurse, learning the profession from the Sisters of Providence at their St Paul's Hospital,. These non-unionized sisters were required to work 12-hour shifts, 7 days a week. During her decades with the Sisters of Charity, thinking within Catholicism began to change, allowing nuns to don modest modern dress and interact more freely with society. At the convent (where we now worship), they like to operate on the community rather than hierarchical model. But as medical procedures increasingly came into conflict with her theological upbringing, Rose found herself severely conflicted within, and finally needed to explore leaving her semi-cloistered community. One night, she had a dream in which she knew how to paint, so she decided to test the dream, bought paints, studied painting and became an accomplished artist (several of her works were displayed in the chapel). After 25 years of nursing, she simply burned out (at 12 hours a day without fail). She undertook a Ph.D., defending her thesis entitled "Spirituality and Aging", of which we definitely want to hear more. She tried to return to the Sisters of Charity, but their keen sense of orderliness did not mesh with her more free personality. She was eventually invited to Mayne Island where she met Canada's first woman to be ordained as a Catholic priest. (Technically, all such priests are excommunicated, yet many remain faithful to Catholicism, though not espousing its archaic rulings concerning gender roles, etc.) Rose was called by friends to receive ordination as a Catholic deacon, which she accepted (and was of course then excommunicated). Catholic priests like Rose wish to work with people who are excluded from the Catholic Church, yet wish to identify with the best in Catholicism rather than switch to Protestantism. Rose's talk was heartening, inspiring, and practical. Over the years, PGIMF has had its bouts with officialdom, particularly when officials appear to be acting with presumed apostolic authority. To some of us, Rose's story was easily understood. [JEK]

Listen to the sermon audio MP3 recording from Sunday, October 21st, 2012 using your browser's preferred media player.



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