Meet the Jeans-Wearing, Nature-Loving Nuns Who Helped Stop a Kentucky Pipeline by Laura Michele Diener a€” YES! As fewer women enter the convent, what will become of Kentuckya€™s tradition of socially and environmentally engaged religious women? Sisters Kathy DiVaio (at left), Jan Barthel, and Diantha Daniels (with Lady Bear, one of the monastery dogs) at Mt. Skeesa€™ commitment to social activism goes back almost as far as her commitment to the church. Now just a few months shy of her eighty-fifth birthday, she remembers feeling the first stirrings of a religious calling at the age of 10. Then, a few years ago, she heard about the Bluegrass Pipeline, a joint venture between two energy companies: Williams and Boardwalk Pipeline Partners.
On August 8, 2013, Skees and other sisters from Loretto and several other convents attended an informational meeting held by representatives of the two companies. Woodford county resident Corlia Logsdon remembers how a company representative asked the police to arrest the sisters for disrupting the meeting that day. Logsdon joined the campaign against the pipeline when she realized the proposed route would cut directly through her front yard. Sellus Wilder, a documentary filmmaker, says he joined the campaign to stop the Bluegrass Pipeline after seeing the video of the nuns singing.
In a way, Skees and the other nunsa€™ participation in the Bluegrass Pipeline fight was not that unusual. But because the Sisters of Loretto are in rural Kentucky, their engagement with these issues takes on a regional flavor. For example, the Sisters of Loretto joined with local advocates for coal minersa€™ rights in 1979 to sue the Blue Diamond Coal Company in order to expose what they saw as a record of poor safety, mining disasters, and environmental negligence in Kentucky.
Skees herself spent much of the 1960s and a€™70s teaching in Louisville, where she marched against racial discrimination in housing and for the integration of schools. These nuns and others like them have long formed part of the core of the nationa€™s activist population. Until the 1960s, convent life offered professional opportunities for women that other fields lackeda€”nuns could become high school principals, college deans, or administrators. What will this decline mean for socially engaged nuns like the ones who helped defeat the Bluegrass Pipeline? I came away thinking how deeply each convent was embedded in its community, and how precious was their wonder at the natural world. The motherhouse of the Sisters of Charity in Nazareth, Kentucky, serves as a retirement home for sisters who have spent their lives in ministrya€”although you might not know that from the energy of the women here. I got to know Joana€”along with Sisters Theresa Knabel, Frances Krumpelman, and Julie Driscolla€”and all four expressed utter joy in their natural surroundings. Their pleasure in rainbows and sunsets at first struck me as childlikea€”odd to find among women in their 70s and 80s. Their love of nature derived in part from the texts they have studied and prayed over, they said, especially the Psalms, the ancient Hebrew poems that utilize images of mountains, birds, and stars to express the glory of divine creation. They feel a similar delight in the work of Pope Francis, especially with his encyclical letter, Laudato Si, which calls for a universal awareness of climate change and its effects on the poor. The beauty of their grounds is overwhelming, and as I explored them alongside Sister Joan, I found myself caught up in her wonder. To improve their ability to care for this land, the sisters of Charity and Loretto have been working with the foresters at Bernheim Forest, an arboretum and research center in nearby Bullitt County.
He has also been helping both convents create conservation easementsa€” legal agreements that permanently limit the uses of a piece of landa€”for their land to ensure it will remain protected in perpetuity, should the sisters no longer be there. This is a reality age and time has forced them to confront, as nearby convents have begun to shut down.
Despite health concerns and the trials of old age, many sisters here remain committed activists.
Their story begins with a pastoral letter from three archbishops, entitled a€?This Land Is Home to Me.a€? The letter, published in 1975, encouraged religious people to move to Appalachia and build places of renewal for people of all faiths. To break down some of the barriers, they cast off their billowy black habits and took up jeans and flannel shirts. Sisters Eileen Schepers and Judy Yunker first read the call while teaching special education classes in a Catholic school in southern Indiana, and both felt inspired by its message.
While theirs wasna€™t the only convent in the area, Schepers and Yunker found themselves among mainly non-Catholics in a close-knit mountain culture.
When Sister Eileen Schepers considers the meaning of sustainability, she talks about the sisters taking their place in a cosmic balance between the community, the planet, and the supernatural. Around quarter to five, the other sisters started drifting in from jobs, throwing down their briefcases and grocery bags in the doorway before pouring themselves coffee from a thermos.
Sister Judy officiated at vespers while the sunset over the mountains behind her shone through the glass walls of the chapel.
As more and more of the sisters age, who will continue the ordersa€™ missions and care for their grounds? Corlia Logsdon believes that local farmers, many of them Catholic, have embraced the nunsa€™ teachings. Then again, the Kentucky orders may continue to serve their communities for a long time to come. Even as they reach out for new members, most of the women I spoke with looked forward to the future, whatever trials it may bring. Susan Classen probably expressed Lorettoa€™s attitude toward an uncertain future most succinctly.
When I Dream of the Planet in RecoveryThe Seas Will Save Us: How an Army of Ocean Farmers Is Starting an Economic RevolutionWhy Do Nuns Outlive the Rest of Us? I look forward to hearing from you and I hope that I’ve encouraged you to keep pressing forward. May 3, 2014 Failure when we allow ourselves helps us to experience and see the power of God.
Enter your email address to subscribe to my blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. What kind of people do we need to be, as the Bride of Christ, who is waiting for her Bridegroom? What does it mean, 'She gave her life away?' I know what it means to me, but I'd be interested to know how other's interpret it.
For me I have put my desires, my hope, even my dreams aside, I have as the poem says given my life away so that Christ can live through me.
The scripture says Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. It is as binding as marriage and just as in our marriages we do not live for ourselves any more, but are commented to our spouse.

That does not mean that we loose our person hood, but we live our lives out in the constraints of the marriage bond.
It's AWESOME to realize that our 'Bridal price', our ransom from sin's dominion~ was the very life & blood of our Beloved!
I believe that while we are here, we are meant to be a display of His glory upon the earth.
Deborah check out the forum on JEWISH MARRIAGE CUSTOMS, this really helped me to understand Jesus teachings much better in light of the culture He lived in. I love this verse Silvia, the Bride of Christ and the Holy Spirit co-operating and working together calling the lost to come to the waters of life. As a wellness coach, I’ve also personally been coached by different folks over the years and find myself subscribed to newsletters from various coaches. If you are wondering how to have a happy life, then, by all means, pick up a Bible and start reading it regularly!
Click here to see Becky’s full list of reasons for reading through the Bible in 1 year.
Angel pocket charms also come individually wrapped in a beautiful ivory organza pouch with a blessing card that reads "May you find comfort in the arms of an angel".
From out of the blackness,a€?the physics of clouds,a€?a light is struck,a€?sputters,a€?gaspsa€?for air,a€?finds it,a€?fans it,a€?and settles.
Did you know they chained up your half-brother, Cerberus?a€?Even at the Gates of Hell, hea€™s all bronze bark and no bite. Also, a whispered word in your ear, friend:a€?Chirona€™s corrupt.a€?Have you not hearda€?about he and Deianeira? Youa€™ll need a heavy axe and your best knifea€?with which you firsta€?slice off the penis, the testicles,a€?then with said axe, hack off head. For the first, stuff the meat and intestines inside the hide.a€?Cover it with the stomach, splotchy side up. With the other, lay out the white bones, with the choicest (meatiest) on top.a€?Rub them generously with the fat, so they glisten, tempt. His men were a bit wonky in the beginning but after a few tries they looked viable, but vulnerable as fuck.
My first thought was a€?go straight to Hera with thisa€™ - dona€™t pussyfoot around: shea€™s poised to really pounce on Zeus this time. When I was bound to that rock, after the third day, I began to realise that this eagle was ceaseless. Ia€™ve heard youa€™re very intelligent, and also hospitable, charitable, civilised, a born teacher who shuns violence -- just like me.
Yet my day may still come.a€?Hea€™ll need me, to tell Him howa€?a new conspiracya€?(I see it even now)a€?strips Him of his sceptrea€?and all his privileges. Her peasant blouse and smooth, chin-length haircut dona€™t fit the popular image of a nun, but she has been a Sister of Lorettoa€”a member of a religious order more than 200 years olda€”since she took vows at the age of 18.
She has marched for civil rights, founded a school for early childhood education, and taught generations of children. The project would have transported natural gas liquids from fracking fields in Pennsylvania and Ohio southwest across Kentucky to connect with an existing pipeline to the Gulf of Mexico.
Frustrated with what they saw as a lack of helpful information, several of the sisters, including Skees, gathered in the center of the room and broke into song. But the officers, who were graduates of local Catholic schools, refused to arrest their former teachers. She says she found the sisters to be stalwart partners, who regularly accompanied her to negotiate with state lawmakers. His experiences led him to produce The End of the Line, a documentary film about the pipeline and opposition to it. In March 2014, a circuit judge ruled against the pipeline, saying the companies had no right to use eminent domain against owners unwilling to sell their land.
About 80 percent of American nuns are members of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which is committed to environmental activism.
Kentucky is a key battleground state in the debates over fracking and coal mining, and its eastern region is home to some of the poorest counties in Appalachia. First, I headed east into the foothills of the Appalachian mountains to visit the Benedictine Sisters of Mt.
Tall and slender, with close-cropped white hair and aA  gentle manner, she radiated kindness and concern.
The autumn leaves mirrored in the lakes, the shadowy corners with statues of long-ago saints, the bright paths dappled with sun, all brought forth a sense of peace. Forester Andrew Berry has walked though hundreds of acres at both campuses to find ways to make their lands more sustainable and friendly to wildlife.
In fall of 2015, with only one able-bodied sister left, the sisters of a Carmelite order in Louisville decided to close their convent. Classen is not a sister but a Mennonite co-member who has lived at Lorettoa€™s motherhouse for 23 years.
And then we buried everything.a€? Susana€™s voice broke, and it was obvious she was thinking not only of the Carmelites but her own order.
Even though many of the women are incredibly active, the average age overall at the convent is 81. In the quiet hour before evening prayer, Sister Eileen chopped onions and peeled potatoes for soup in the sun-swept kitchen. Everyone leaned against the counter, chatting while Sister Eileen spooned biscuit dough onto a baking tray. The garments brought them into a ritual similarity, and it became harder to tell them apart. A few men and women sat in the pews, visitors and friends who had wandered in to share the daily tradition. Who will stand up for local people, advocate for sustainability, and offer a place of quiet in which to contemplate nature? Rather than relying on an influx of young girls graduating from Catholic schools, some of the convents are recruiting nontraditional members.
Tabor, the community decided in 2005 to become ecumenical, meaning they accept women from all Christian denominations. Another sister added that the Benedictine Rule teaches them not to think in terms of permanence, referring to a guide for monastic living that Benedictine monks and nuns have followed for about 1,500 years. Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo and JFK Jr.…You’re in pretty good company if you ask me!
God knew I would fail the exam the first time and He took that failure and used it to help me become who I am today.
The first time I weaved God into my studies, the way you include an associate in on a trip with really great friends.

Your brothers too.a€?With Chimaera, she gave up and squeezed,a€?letting all the bile in her womb gush forth.a€?I see the future!
Not being a mound-lover, I said to Eps, Ia€™ll work with this rock - you make something of these new mounds. If they cana€™t find anything else to say, they say you slept with your mother, killed your father, got ravaged by bird. A video of the sisters singing a€?Amazing Gracea€? was picked up by media outlets such as Mother Jones and reached hundreds of thousands of people.
He called the sisters the glue that held the diverse group of protesters together and kept them focused. A few months later, the companies agreed to redraw their route to avoid Lorettoa€™s grounds, but the sisters kept protesting to support their neighbors.
Sister Ann Scholz, the LCWRa€™s associate director for social mission, says this position is a direct outcome of the way sisters interpret the gospel. They hold annual protests at the controversial School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia, a training program for Latin American military whose graduates have been accused of human-rights violations (the school is now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation).
The same thing is happening all over the United Statesa€”there were only about 49,000 sisters in 2015, compared to nearly 180,000 in 1965. Tabor, an intimate community that has opened up its home to its neighbors as a space of contemplation.
Judging by the number of other visitors strolling around, I wasna€™t the only one drawn to the harmonious abundance of Nazareth. At Charity, for example, he helped pull out invasive species to help restore the native oak forestlands. Rather than simply throw away the sacred items, the Sisters of Loretto offered to bury them on their grounds and, in November 2015, held a ceremony at the edge of their forestlands.
The community is small and intimate, with only eight nuns and one resident oblatea€”a person who recommits themselves to the Benedictine order every year, rather than taking permanent vows.
Over the years, the local people and the sisters have built up a mutual respect and maintain many close relationships. She scraped the veggie peelings into a Kaya€™s Ice Cream bucket by the sink, and sprinkled the potatoes from twin salt and pepper shakers in the shape of smiling nuns.
Just before she put the biscuits in the oven, they all made their way into the chapel for evening prayer. Co-members at Loretto can be male or female, married or single, and Catholic or not, so long as they are committed to peace and justice. They currently have six Roman Catholics, two Episcopalians, and one non-affiliated Christian woman. She teaches medieval history and directs the womena€™s studies program at Marshall University. This time I’m treating my studies like the associate because the bar exam is temporary but God is forever! Jesus said that it was expedient for us, that He go away for awhile, that He might send the Holy Spirit to live in us & lead us into all truth! I often find myself meditating over her words despite just breezing through her bullet points. No?a€?I caught a glimpse of the gruesome slut once.a€?Instead of legs, she had a penis, long and coiled thick. You see ahead, but then if you try and change it, the alternativea€™s not necessarily that great either. The case eventually went to the state supreme court, which upheld the lower courta€™s decision. Next, I went to central Kentucky to visit the Sisters of Charity, a global order with convents in Africa, Asia, and Central America.
The sisters believe part of their mission is to share the beauty of their home with their neighbors, so they keep it open to the public and maintain walking trails and fishing lakes for the community.
When I visited Loretto in December, the grave was still fresh, spilling over with golden dirt.
The numbers are similar for the Sisters of Charity: There are 304 members in the United States and Belize, but only 22 are under the age of 65. Originally it was a subsidiary of a larger monastery in Indiana, but it became independent in 2000. Like Susan Classen, co-members can be deeply integrated in the life of Loretto, living at the motherhouse, serving on committees, and fully participating in campaigns for social change. Every failure teaches us how to overcome and success is usually related to how well you take defeat.
I completely relate to fitting God into parts of life rather than making him the center of my life. Finally, I dropped by the motherhouse of the Sisters of Loretto, founded by pioneer women dedicated to teaching the children of Kentucky. Charitya€™s members are younger in its south Asian monasteries, where only 60 percent of the sisters are over 65, and women still join as young as 18. Although they work all over the county during the day, the sisters have communal dinners every night after their evening prayers. Sometimes the worst situation are a great means by which God uses to elevate us and give us the extra ordinary favor. He always had something else a€?more importanta€™.) Epimetheus complained but did my bidding. The world is wide and strange, full of good high views and grimmer monstrous sights below board too. I began to see how one touch full of loving intention could sustain someone throughout each day, and how that intention could spread outward to their neighbors and the world beyond. Whatever bad we find our selves God is more than capable to allow his come to them.God uses these circumstances to prepare us for the great work or vision he has put before us and our greatest testimonies!!!
It made me comfortable with failure and because of Gods grace and mercy, failure has not withheld me from moving toward His goals for me. We can never be so misled to think our failures are determining factors for our outcome in life they are often indicators that we have a destiny to fulfill. Praise God for this message because every time I tell this story it reminds me of just how good God has been to me!!

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