For the past decade or so, I have had the pleasure of working with my dear friend Bruce Haring on his DIY conventions. These began in Los Angeles as a way to educate those within the creative community on how to successfully develop an entertainment based career without the aid of having corporate America’s support. As a successful writer and journalist, he focused on self-publishing and expanded to include independent music and film. It was his belief that creative people who had talent, but didn’t necessarily fit into the mainstream marketing category, deserved to find their place within the entertainment behemoth. You can see more on his events and how they have grown at www.diyconvention.com.
When I relocated to the east coast, Bruce asked if I’d continue to work with him on the New England Book Festival. The yearly event would take place each winter in Boston to celebrate independent authors and their works. Of course, I accepted and each year the event has grown in size and scope. I have had the pleasure of meeting a wide variety of authors from all walks of life and have read some of the most amazing books created by them. There was one author, however, that left a lasting impression. She was a former nun by the name of Patty Ptak Kogutek who wrote a book about her experiences titled A Change of Habit: A Spiritual Journey from Sister Mary Kateri to Sister Mary Vodka.
At this particular point in my life, I was struggling with my religious upbringing and my views of the world at large. It was fortuitous that Patty and her husband attended the award ceremony that year. I had the pleasure of listening to her speak about her experiences and the role that Catholicism played in her life as a former nun. As an Italian American girl, I was raised Catholic. While I’ve had many issues with the church and its views on women, gays and modern life, as I age I have felt a calling to return to the church. It’s something that I have often struggled with. I feel very separated from the foundations of the Catholic Church. My views on female reproductive choices, a women’s place in the world and alternate lifestyle choices are both feminist and liberal. My belief is that women can be anywhere we choose to be and that there is no need to become a wife & mother if that isn’t your calling. I also believe that people can be born gay and that there is nothing wrong with that if it is truly who you are. Love is a gift and no one should be told who to love and who not to love. These are my views. Obviously, they don’t go hand in hand with my religious upbringing.
I’ve felt better about the Catholic Church since Pope Francis became Pontif. He is more progressive than any other before him and is addressing issues others have long ignored. Through his leadership, I believe the church can finally walk into the light of this century and leave behind archaic practices.
I had a moment to talk with Patty about this. Our conversation brought focus to my feelings. In my view, her experiences within the nunnery during the early 1960s were less than positive. However, she was able to forgive the flaws and misdeeds by the humans around her. She actively chose to embrace the teachings of the Catholic Church that were positive, reinforcing and loving. I choose to do the same.
If you are interested in learning more about life as a young nun, how Catholicism affects ones life and moving forward, I recommend reading Patty’s book A Change of Habit: A Spiritual Journey from Sister Mary Kateri to Sister Mary Vodka. It’s available via Amazon.