BETTY ROLLIN: They are the Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia in Nashville, Tennessee, a traditional order that began in 1860. Their day begins at 5 a.m. with meditation followed by a Mass. Meals are held in silence. Their vocation is to teach. The sisters here have come from different states and different backgrounds, most of them raised Catholic, some not. In 1965, there were about 180,000 nuns in America. By 2007, that number dropped to 63,000 with an average age of 70. The average age of the Dominican sisters is 36. Their numbers have increased so steadily in the past 15 years that they have had to build a 100,000 square-foot addition to the property. The sisters here — the first year postulants, the second year novices, and those who, after seven years, have taken their final vows all say they have been called by God and that they are in love.
Sister KATHERINE WILEY: When you’re a little girl, you’re planning your wedding, you’re playing bride. But just to allow the Lord to transform my heart to see that I would still be a bride, but I would be his bride.
Sister CHRISTIANA MICKWEE, O.P.: When you have fallen in love with God, everything doesn’t seem quite so important anymore because God, the creator of the world, has asked you to be his bride. No, I will not be having sex. No, I will not be having children. No, I will not be marrying a spouse. But my very body and blood is united to God in a way that isn’t offered to everyone in the world.