Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview


By Diogenes ( articles ) | Nov 25, 2007

I can offer you the Nashville Dominican Postulants ...

Michelle Boorstein of the Washington Post has a patronizing yet grudgingly positive article on the Nashville Dominicans, who are opening a high school in the Arlington Diocese. The piece is framed, somewhat facetiously, along the lines of a business-section feature about a successful marketing ploy, focusing on the externals of a well-ordered religious life. Most Catholics readers will understand that more than a change of uniform is at work:

In her floor-length white habit with black veil and a rosary around her waist, [Sister Mary Jordan] Hoover is the picture of affirmation for traditional dioceses, including Arlington's.

And that makes her a hot property. With a stated mission of teaching, the Nashville Dominicans get letters and phone calls almost daily from dioceses across the country, asking that they send their youthful -- and overtly devout -- vibe to one school or another.

Asking that they send their "vibe" ... ? Nope. Tried that 40 years ago. Other also-rans console themselves with the product recognition/market segmentation line: the Nashville gals succeeded on the strength of distinctive branding:

"If Catholic schools don't look any different and use the same textbooks and have the same teachers and the same standards, why have them?" asked Sister Patricia Wittberg, a sociologist at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis who studies religious orders. One way to distinguish yourself is "to get a bunch of women in habits in there. They are icons of Catholicity in a diocese that wants Catholicity."

Wittberg suggests that those who'd stoop so low as to make a play for the Catholicity niche-market can do so by deploying "a bunch of women in habits" -- a curious expression. It doesn't exactly sound like a compliment. Not to downplay the importance of distinctive religious garb in an age of increasingly aggressive secularism, but I'm more inclined to think that what aspirants, and parents, and latterly even bishops are finding attractive in the Nashville Dominicans is not principally their vesture, but their Faith.

... or, if you prefer, the Indianapolis Benedictines at recreation.

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Show 3 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: bkmajer3729 - Nov. 26, 2009 10:21 AM ET USA

    You know, the problem is we put "scientists" up on this public opinion pedastal forgeting they are women and men ... just like the rest of us. The sad thing is they know that most folks do not have the gift and depth of understanding of the scientists. So they use us and ridicule us..betraying their committment to the rest of us trusting their gift. Thank God for the scientists and engineers truly standing up for the Truth and serving God and man.

  • Posted by: TheJournalist64 - Nov. 25, 2009 6:43 PM ET USA

    1) the earth is warming (not certain) 2) humans have contributed to the warming (still not certain) 3) a warming earth is bad (much evidence to the contrary, circa 9-14 centuries AD) 4) humans can reverse the trend (not certain and highly unlikely). Those are the facts.

  • Posted by: Gil125 - Nov. 25, 2009 2:48 PM ET USA

    The Times lives by the old maxim, Never let the data stand in the way of a good theory.