[Assam] IE: India - ex-nun's confession ; my school
jaipurschool at yahoo.com
Thu Feb 19 14:05:53 IST 2009
Recently, I saw the new movie "Doubt" - about doubt created at a Catholic school in a nun's mind about the behavior of her senior ( a priest) . Meryl Streep might get an Oscar for her performance. As a kid when I joined St Xavier School, Jaipur in 5th grade I found that I got admission thanks to the removal of the hostel facility- the entire hostel building became the new primary school building. All ex-hostelers were asked to leave and find alternate accommodation. Each grade level had 1 or 2 new sections ( I don't remember - never asked at that time I think). Some of my batchmates were ex-hostelers. Although we were quite young but not holier-than-thou. By the time I reached 7th grade I had heard quite a few tales. In 7th grade we had a history teacher (who will go unnamed), unmarried, almost a nun. I had heard
a lot about her earlier. She had been the matron of the hostel - and her name was scribbled in all sorts of unsavory places - always alongwith that of a priest. Ex-hostelers told me that that priest (Indian) had been sent away after the scandal broke out. He was the in-charge of the hostel. Over the years I was able to see him ( I forget his full name now) when he returned when I was in 11th grade. In a large assembly/some event-that lady teacher got one of us (ex-hosteller) to go and give a bouquet to him - I was right there - no big deal?
At that age in all-boys school there was lot of expectation . We in 10th grade had already received sex-education from Fr Mayor/Meyer/Mayer of Germany(incl me - about hygiene etc) . Some boys said that the michievous ones got to see western porn pics too. (that was long before the internet)He did mention once about erotic Khajuraho sculpture in our class and how it was obscene. He left after
one year. Many other priests were excellent and dedicated. One (Indian) wore only jeans and khadi kurta despite being Vice Principal. Another (local Indian) went to Africa to promote education (after getting MBA from IIM-C). Another (white American) was our grade 12 English teacher (not the best we had had thus far) but as 80 yearold he had taught every subject over the years and had also been the school principal many decades ago. He frequently brought in the broomstick and clean the classroom during lunch break - if the students dirtied it. .
Here is something by a former nun.
Ex-nun's confessions set to rock Kerala Church
Posted: Feb 19, 2009 at 0922 hrs IST
Already reeling under several controversies, the Kerala Catholic Church
is facing fresh embarrassment from a tell-all autobiography written by
a nun who recently quit the Order alleging harassment from superiors.
‘Amen — an autobiography of a nun’, released last
week, is written by Dr Sister Jesme, 52, who was the Principal of St
Mary’s College, Thrissur, till last August when she quit the
Congregation of Mother Carmelite (CMC). “Dedicated to Jesus”, Amen is explicit in its
details of the sexual repression and harassment behind the Church walls
as well as the draconian rules and “greed” of the Order. Jesme claims
that since the book was released, she has been getting calls pledging
“Nuns mingle with the whole spectrum of the
community around them. They teach students, comfort the aged and nurse
the sick; still the brides of the Church remain an enigma. My work
would throw light on the misunderstood convent life, engulfed in
darkness,” says Jesme.
Apart from the Abhaya murder in which a nun and
priests are accused, the Kerala Church was recently in the news for a
priest “adopting” a 26-year-old woman.
Jesme’s autobiography includes a poignant version
by her of how the convent authorities tried to twice prove that she had
mental problems and get her admitted into a rehab centre after she
reportedly spoke out against the malpractices within the Order. Starting with her first days in the Church, 30
years ago, she talks of priets forcing novices to have relations with
them and the closet homosexuality within nun ranks, “which the Church
reckons as the dirtiest thing possible”. “If nuns developed unusual
interest in each other, authorities would deploy other inmates to watch
them,” she writes.
The book says Jesme herself was forced into such a
relationship by a fellow nun, and that her complaints to a senior nun
were ignored. According to her, the other nun said she preferred such a
relationship as it ruled out pregnancy. There were others who had
affairs with priests, she writes.
Another passage in Amen deals with a chance
encounter Jesme had with a priest in Bangalore while on her way to
Dharwar to attend a UGC refresher course in English. “My plan was to
stay at the waiting room at the Bangalore railway station. But sisters
in the convent gave me the address of a pious, decent priest. When I
reached Bangalore, the priest was waiting to receive me. He embraced me
and took me to his presbytery. After breakfast, he took me to Lalbagh
(Botanical Garden) and showed me several pairs cuddling behind trees.
He also gave a sermon on the necessity of physical love and described
the illicit affairs certain bishops and priests had.”
Later, when they were in his room, she writes, he stripped and made her do the same.
Jesme claims that while nuns in the lower ranks
were punished if caught for even minor offences, the Church turned a
blind eye to those superior or with influence for major transgressions.
Talking about the Church’s draconian rules, Jesme
writes in the book that she was not allowed to go home when her father
died, or to even pray some extra hours for his soul. “I was able to see
my father barely 15 minutes before the funeral. The alibi of the
superiors was that the then senior sisters were not even lucky enough
to see the bodies of their parents.”
During her time in the Church, Jesme often ran
into problems with superiors. She was called “cine nun” after she
provided office facility for a film festival at St Mary’s College,
leading to the first campus film from the college, as well as when she
shared dais with a sex worker for the release of a book on the life of
Since quitting CMC, Jesme has been staying alone
in a flat in Kozhikode. She told The Indian Express she was still
living as a “nun”. “I go for Church mass daily and have no plans to get
Ed.M. - International Education Policy
Harvard Graduate School of Education,
Class of 2005
http://www.uknow.gse.harvard.edu/index.html (Edu info)
http://hbswk.hbs.edu/ (Management Info)
www.gse.harvard.edu/iep (where the above 2 are used )
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