Hollywoods version of nuns
Hollywood's version of nuns

In pop culture, Catholic nuns have long carried the reputation of being cold, sometimes even sadistic classroom despots. (Friends of mine who attended Catholic schools have told me that, like many stereotypes, there is a hint of truth in this). But have you ever seen the 1959 Audrey Hepburn movie ”The Nun’s Story?” I can’t vouch for its accuracy, but if even a little of that flick is true, a nun-in-training puts herself through mental and physical challenges that make Marine boot camp look like Barbie’s Dream House.

And you’d have to be pretty fearless to face down what The Sisters of St. Mary of Namur (Western Province) have encountered since they came to Texas in 1873. Despite anti-Catholicism, sexism, and frontier privations, they upheld the principles of non-violence, charity (especially prison ministries), and education. In 1961, the Sisters helped open Fort Worth’s Nolan High School and taught the girls’ classes there.

But now their average age is 74, their health care costs are sky high, and, having taken a vow of lifelong poverty, they need help. Tomorrow (Saturday March 6) at noon, Nolan High is holding a luncheon fundraiser to contribute to the Sisters’ cause. Fort Worth Bishop Kevin Vann will attend and offer opening comments. If you’d rather contribute directly, call their headquarters at 817-923-8393 or email

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I don’t fantasize about nuns very often, but here’s my dream scenario: An octogenarian sister has a little too much vino at the luncheon, sidles up to Bishop Vann, and whispers in his ear: “Hey, Kev. You’ve got the direct line to Rome. How can we reroute some of that cash the U.S. bishops are wasting to fight same-sex marriage and universal health coverage into our coffers?”