Saturday, April 15, 2006

Passover II


7:00 am ~

I've only participated in one Seder before. When I was in about eighth grade, I was a student at a Catholic boarding school. Religion classes were required, of course, but the nonCatholic girls were assigned classes of their own, run by nuns who taught what they knew -- Catholic doctrine.

Poor Sister Collette. Our teacher that year was a very young woman who had to face the sullen and accusatory responses of her Methodist, Baptist, and Assemblies of God students every day. "You're wrong." "That's not what we believe in our church." "I don't think so." "That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard." All you have to do is imagine a group of thirteen-year-old girls, cornered but refusing to be cowed, and you can easily picture those classes.

At one point, however, Sister Colette looked around, threw up her hands, and said, "I don't know anything about other religions." (How could she? Those were the days when young women went straight from twelve years of Catholic schooling into the convent, which sheltered them on its grounds for two years and then sent them to Catholic colleges and universities for their advanced training.)

"I think we should find out, " she said.

And thus began our inquiry into other faiths, with explorations of their texts, buildings, and celebrations. The Ursuline nuns whom I have now known for 50 years are faithful Catholics, but they are also unfailingly gracious to everyone they encounter and genuinely curious and eager to learn about the beliefs and practics of others. My first Seder took place in a pastel-colored classroom in rural Ohio, and was presided over by a nun in full habit and celebrated by a group of Protestant girls in navy skirts and white blouses.

I don't remember a thing about it except what I learned from Sister Collette who, it seems, was not so impoverished after all, in either spirit or response.

3 comments:

Celeste said...

Hi! So THIS is you! I followed you at your old place. NBice to find you again. Happy Easter. ;) C.

Cynthia said...

Now that was a teacher.

Lisa :-] said...

How lucky you were to encounter Sister Collette. And she to encounter you. Mutual benefit if I've ever seen it... :-]