Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Inside NCR. (Openers)

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Inside NCR. (Openers)

Article excerpt

American women religious are not only the stalwarts of the church in action. Their congregations are also a living history of who we are as American Catholics and where we came from, as well as a living U.S. history.

A sidelight on the Loretto story (see Page 14) reminds us what this country once held. Loretto Sr. Patricia Manion, who takes people on the Santa Fe and Oregon trails, in her book Beyond the Adobe Wall, captures the excitement and newness facing the four brave sisters who set off from St. Louis for New Mexico in 1852. On that journey Sr. Magdalen Hayden wrote "nothing gave us so much alarm as the Indians, at one time we were surrounded by some thousand ... whether through curiosity or in order to frighten us, I do not know. Perhaps for both purposes."

The sisters had their "first buffalo dinner," shot by a hunter from the "thousands of bison ... overwhelming ... herds in thousands in a wave."

A world gone by. Blessedly, their sister descendants are very much still a part of our lives. Those wishing to make the Santa Fe Trail Loretto 150th anniversary commemorative trip can contact www.lorettocommunity.org.

The recent sex abuse scandal has been likened to a wound in a body; someone else has said it is like a fever, a sign that the body is dealing with deep hurt. Such images come to mind easily for Catholics who are so steeped in that sense of connection, one to another. When one part of the body is wounded, we all hurt. So we look to signs that we are breaking through the ache to some kind of healing. We can't be too quick in our expectations. That's why the recent round of extended apologies from the pulpits seems not to have made much difference.

But there was an act of sorrow and remorse that I found profoundly moving (see story Page 10). The original report was done by the gifted religion writer, David Briggs, whose work on this subject for the Cleveland Plain Dealer is a splendid example of the craft. …

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