Sunday, August 19, 2012

Refusing to wear the traditional habit...



"No habit, no vocation." -Anonymous

My sister-in-law set out to be a nurse shortly after graduation from high school.  She had to live in a dorm and follow very strict rules of conduct - the students lived like nuns in those days.  She studied with the Sisters of St. Joseph at their nursing school in Downtown St. Paul at the time.  The students - all women - wore nurses uniforms, which were in fact rather matronly.  Just like high school girls with their uniforms, the women somehow shortened the skirt length and found a way to show off their cute little shapes, if they could get away with it.  Point is, nursing schools were strict and the students lived liked postulants in a religious community to some extent.  My sister-in-law quickly became a nursing school drop out.

Like the nuns, the nurses eventually abandoned their habits/uniforms.  No more cute little uniforms and sexy nurses caps.  Just like the nuns, they modified at first.  The first thing to go was the cap - naturally, since all women got rid of hats and head coverings in those days.  Then they modified the dress, permitting ill-fitted, polyester, white pant-suit uniforms - which yellowed and greyed from frequent tumble drying and became somewhat transparent.  Shiver.  At least when they wore dresses they also wore slips... but I digress.  The horror of worn-polyester may actually be the reason why the nurses began wearing ugly, flowery-scrubs which look more like children's pajamas than anything resembling a uniform...

"We're dealing with sick people here, you understand.
 Dangerously sick people!" - Nurse Diesel


Anyway - cut to the chase - last week a commenter critical of nuns who no longer wear a veil or a habit wrote, "No religious habit, no vocation."  In other words, the habit makes the nun.  Perhaps the same  could be said of nurses, "No uniform or cap, no vocation."

No wonder health care is such a mess.




 

16 comments:

  1. My mother was in nurses training in the 1950s at a place called Columbus Hospital School of nursing in Great Falls, Montana. It was run by real, old school sisters of Charity. My mother relates the strictness of training there. It was like being a postulant. She still talks about "Mary like modesty" and the length of skirts below the knee and mid-arm sleeves. They went to daily Mass. It was a time of epiphany for my mother. It was there she began to take her faith seriously. They actually had a ceremony receiving their cap, CAPE and an oil lamp which they held in their hands for their graduation photo.

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  2. Oh yes! with an embroidered collar. She still has it. It must have been expensive. It's black with red satin inside.

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  3. What a great story, Servus. Both of my mother's sisters were sisters of charity, you know, w/ the big coronets. One was an RN missionary and the other was the director of Catholic Charities in New York. By the time she died she was in street clothes. We know where they are now :( When the Sistas lose the pink lipstick we will know we are on the road to recovery, lol ;)

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    1. Maria, I now remember you mentioning your aunt who was a nun. I didn't know she was a sister of Charity. It's interesting that considering the revival of habits and founding zeal among some of the younger orders that a group hasn't surfaced that embrace the original charism of the sisters of charity along with their habit. I remember in the 1970s we had a sister of charity who was a social worker in our town. She (surprisingly her name Sister Carita and not just "Sister Jan" was in stark contrast in her street clothes to my teachers who still wore habits)

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  4. "We know where they are now :("

    Really? How do you know this?

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    1. Maria is referring to the state of the said religious order its' deterioration which is obvious.

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    2. OH! I'm sorry then.

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  5. Anonymous6:09 PM

    Yep, the clothes make the nun, there's never been a female religious who feigned a vocation who wore a full habit.

    That's exactly what I said.

    See what a mean? Are you even aware you're doing this? Is it some kind of manic thing, alcohol induced or what?

    I understand that many SSA men have a problem with liquor.

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    1. You're back! I thought I had lost you. Thanks for your comments. My apologies for being so inhospitable. God bless!

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    2. Anonymous8:08 PM

      This must be Starets Terry, the holy hermit.

      When will the middle-class, antique travel show Terry be back?

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    3. He's here too. Got salt? ;)

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    4. Hey I should have asked - how do you like my new profile photo? - pretty cool, huh?

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    5. "But before all things have a constant mutual charity among yourselves: for charity covereth a multitude of sins"

      1 Peter 4:8

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  6. Anonymous10:14 PM

    I'm confused. Nursing students might not have uniforms, but every nurse I've ever seen has been in uniform. Very unflattering, I might add. Though I like the ones with the cute cartoon characters.

    whimsy

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  7. I don't know about you, but I actually like the look of those blue scrubs that some of the nurses ware. The patterned one's, not so much.

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