Ever wonder if Nuns get paid to educate at all those Catholic institutions? Why do some wear habits and some don’t? What’s the deal behind those vows? Baby, director Pedro Kos blows the lid off of all it with his new doc Rebel Hearts.
When we think about the 60’s and 70’s, the marches for civil, human and women’s rights The Sisters of the Immaculate Heart took their vows to a whole new level standing up to the patriarchy of the Catholic Church fighting for equality, their livelihoods, and their own freedom in Los Angeles. The Sisters’ bold acts of faith, defiance and activism turned the Church upside down, helping to reshape our society in ways that continue to resonate today. Bringing the church into modern life was not only met with forceful opposition at every turn locally and eventually from the the Vatican. For indivduals supposedly being examples for the Christian way of life, why were these priests so adamnantly defiant regarding change and updating the image of Nuns in the Catholic church. I mean, is this what Jesus Christ would do? I don’t think so!
Combining archival footage, animation, along with two decades of interviews beautifully captures the back story from these incredible women – Immaculate Heart Community members Sisters Anita Caspary, Helen Kelley, Corita Kent, as well as, accounts from Lenore Dowling, Rosa Manriquez, and Ruth Anne Murray. These ladies took on the Vatican and their ‘four point’ rules…
- Meet daily for some religious exercise in common
- Continue their commitment to education
- Must observe and follow instructions from and collaborate with the local ordinaries
- Wear a uniform habit
As someone who formerly practiced Catholicism, it was not shocking to learn the manner in which the controlling arm of the church extended to the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart and beyond. It’s one thing to give your life over to the Lord, but to be blatantly bullied into how that is to occur is annoyingly heartbreaking and sexist. It also speaks volumes to the pervuasive control men consistently attempt as aa means to keep women quiet and ‘in their place.’ Priest would actually joke that these Nuns took the vow of poverty and they kept it.
However, these women refused to be counted out, silenced, be categorized or marginalized as a members of society whose only viable contribution is believed to bear children and the ultimate goal of living out their days as a homemaker. How the church views Mary is how the world sees women. Woman are smart, resilisent and not to be messed with – especially Sister Anita, Sister Helen, and Sister Corita. Even though they are no lnoger with us, I applaud their tenacity, verve and ability not let things stay buried under the rug. They were more than activists – they inhabited the true energy and meaning of what it means to have a ‘rebel heart.’
It’s not just a gender issue. It’s racism, sexism, ageism and any other -ism that attempts to dominate the minds of hearts with hatred and division solely based on gender. Their protests of joy insighted change. Sometimes, it’s okay not to fit it – it’s what makes us unique and by being unique one stands to inflect change – whether folks are ready for it or not.
Following the dispensation of vows over 325, the Sisters went on to form the Immaculate Heart Community of California. In 2020, the new Community celebrated 50 years of faith in action. In 1970, 65 sisters kept their vows remaing obedient to the Church in Los Angeles or transsferring to other Orders. Directed by Pedro Kos, who seriously really gets it, I highly recommend having this doc one on your ‘must -see’ list as the film hits Discovery Plus this week.