Embodiment of Christ Doesn't Require a Habit

Lisa Martin

Sister Carolyn Mullin

Working for the CHM sisters for 12 years I have heard, "Why no habit?" "I want them in a habit!" "They lost their way when they took off the habit!" "Their identity IS the habit!" People shouldn't be so critical  about what sisters wear. These are women who are doing the work of the gospel, living with and tending to the poor and powerless. I wonder if the pundits direct their habit vitriol at those degrading it? Like Hollywood movies, dirty gift stores and greeting card companies.

Shame on anyone who questions a sisters' faith based on apparel. The CHM Sisters, as did many other communities, didn't start out wearing habits. They were wearing the clothes of poor women so as to blend in with those they ministered to. Sister Jude Fitzpatrick, chancellor of the Diocese of Des Moines and a past president of the Sisters of Humility said, “The dress of the earliest Sisters of Humility was that of the ordinary French woman...It was in the spirit of returning to our ‘roots’ that one of the changes we made after Vatican II was to permit members to use contemporary dress of the women of this time.... Our charism, mission and the life we share are more important than ‘what we wear.’”

There are women religious who wear habits all the time, some of the time and never. It is their choice. Thank God they have this choice!  If a person wants to know who is a sister in their midst, then seek them out! Try volunteering in ministry with them. 

CHM Sister Carolyn Mullin passed away this week. A woman who she was close to sent us a wonderful letter describing Sr. Carolyn. Her words could describe so many sisters I know:

"Carolyn  didn't wear her faith or her beliefs on her sleeves - yet there was never any doubt that she had a love that reached out to everyone. She embodied the Christ she committed her life to 60+ years ago and touched lives without alienating. She was genuine and the holiest person I have ever known...The Carolyn I knew made this world a better place...God bless and give you peace dear Carolyn." -Mary Signorelli