The picture of a Catholic nun in long black robes and sweeping headdress may be outdated, but religious orders are far from becoming history. Sally Ann McCarthy works at the Sisters of St. Francis convent in Clinton.She says there are 96 members who are “sisters,” two on an administrative staff, and a dozen more who work at the “mother house” as cooks and maintenance. McCarthy says there are still women coming forward who’ve decided to devote their lives to the religious order and take vows. She admits their numbers have dwindled in recent years.She says religious life will always appeal to some. McCarthy says the work of religious orders like the Clinton Franciscans has changed since they were founded over 110 years ago, and will keep changing. Instead of Catholic schools and hospitals staffed by nuns, they will serve by helping immigrants, AIDS patients, and prisoners. McCarthy says though the Clinton order of the Franciscans is a bit smaller than it was once, and the nuns are older, it’s a vital part of the community. Religious life is community life, sharing, and taking good care of things. McCarthy says religious organizations like the Clinton Franciscans have set the tone for conservation, from responsible farming and chemical-free housekeeping to safeguarding church property. She says new women are preparing to take vows and join the order.
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