Writing history is a radical act. I’m going to say it again. Writing history is a radical act. The process by which historians choose to deify, demonize, or emulate individuals and events is a malleable and contentious undertaking. As I’m sure you savvy readers out there know—with this retelling comes power. Sure, narratives can be retold, historical ‘facts’ reformulated, and legacies reclaimed. But whose voices get heard? Which versions get told? Who gets remembered and why? (For far too long ‘our’ Nation’s history consisted overwhelmingly of the male, pale, and stale variety.)
As a radical feminist, raging homo, and recovering Catholic, I’ve rarely, if ever, felt compelled to wax poetic about any organization affiliated with the Catholic Church. Then I met a Sister of Mercy, and my dogmatic belief in Catholicism’s all-encompassing evil was shot dead on the spot.
The Sisters of Mercy work internationally to promote social justice in ways that are often political and sometimes piss off the Vatican. In the United States, they are one of the groups of nuns currently being investigated by the Vatican, ostensibly because they don’t wear habits, live independently, and are committed to fixing societal problems even if it means occasionally pooh-poohing some of the Church’s archaic stances on things like abortion, condoms, and solutions to the AIDS crisis.
Read on for more on the history of The Sisters of Mercy and its founder, Catherine McAuley!