*edits added after originally posting are in brackets and in bold.
My mother was a nun and my father was a priest.
I often start talking about my parent’s story this way. I then have to say, they both left religious life before they met each other. But I actually know much less of my mother’s religious story than my father’s. I know she started college, but didn’t finish. I know she entered the convent, but left before taking her final vows. I don’t know the relationship between these two things.
There was a shared story in the comments of last week’s post (thank you Angela), remembering Norma coming home from the convent. This directed my photo searching this week as well as a bit of research on what I can tell from the colors of her habits.
my observations and wonderings
There is this look in her face of intention, openness, and searching.
I know she continued to be a practicing catholic her whole life, and enjoyed participating in religious communities, like cursillos. So what was it that made her decide the nun life wasn’t for her?
It looks like most of these photos are her as a postulant (the first stages of religious life before becoming a novice). These would be the ones where she is wearing all white. Then she takes vows to become a novice (the two with the white robe and black habit). And then she leaves before taking final vows.
There are so many things I don’t know. Where was this convent? [Adrian, Michigan, where my grandma also went, was a catholic high school. Then my mother went to a convent in Lufkin, TX where she stayed for 5 years. After 5 years, she came home to make the decision of whether to take final vows. She then met my father.] Did she do part of her high school there? Her graduation photos almost bleed into these ones, or the ones where she’s in all black.
Norma was the oldest of fifteen children, and I wonder how this influenced her decision to enter the convent.
I was a religion major and had many conversations about the existence of god, gender and catholicism, and the language of religion with both my dad and my mom’s best friend, but never talked about it with my mom.
What was this young Norma with a wreath of flowers on her head going through? What was she wondering during this early time in her life?
This post begs for fact checking. Feel free to add or correct any of my conjectures.