by Mary Ann Hinsdale, IHM
Sr. Mary Ann Hinsdale is a member of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Before coming to Boston College in 2000, she was at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA where she taught theology, was the Chair of the Religious Studies department, and served as a Director of Women’s Studies. Hinsdale specializes in ecclesiology, Christology, theological anthropology, and feminist theologies.
One of BC’s best kept secrets might be the “Nunz ‘n the Hood”! Lest you think this is some new acapella group, riffing on the 1991 movie “Boyz ‘n the Hood,” I want to assure you that the members of this group comprise the real life “nuns” (more accurately, “Sisters”) who minister here at Boston College as professors, administrators, and staff members.
The “Nunz” began gathering together in each other’s homes back in 2002 to share prayer and a meal and to reflect together on their ministry at Boston College. The moniker “Nunz ‘n the Hood” began as sort of a joke, but somehow it stuck. Some of us belong to congregations that have roots in the Boston area, or are linked to BC because of membership in the Society of the Sacred Heart, the sponsoring order of the former Newton College of the Sacred Heart (NCSH) which merged with BC in 1974. Others of us are missioned here by our communities because BC had an opening in an area of our professional expertise which our own orders did not have.
The members of the “Nunz” has fluctuated over the years, but today there are eleven Sisters who come together, usually once a semester, for an evening of “sharing, snacks and sisterhood.” Four of us are members of the Society of the Sacred Heart (RSCJ): Jean Bartunek, RSCJ, who holds the Robert A. and Evelyn J. Ferris Chair of Organization Studies in CSOM, has taught at BC since 1977; Hilda Carey, RSCJ, graduated from Newton College and has been teaching in the English Department since 1986; Gail O’Donnell, RSCJ also a graduate of Newton College, directed the sabbatical program at the former Weston Jesuit School of Theology, and now teaches part time as well as ministers as a spiritual director at the STM; and Barbara Quinn, RSCJ, who came to the School of Theology and Ministry in 2011 as Associate Director of Spiritual Formation. The RSCJs are an international order whose North American provincial house is located in St. Louis. They have had a close relationship with the Jesuits since the beginning of their founding by St. Madeleine Sophie Barat. “In fact, the RSCJs have had such a close relationship with Jesuits from the beginning that working at BC feels like being part of a family enterprise,” commented Sr. Barbara.
Sr. Diane Dube, RJM, is a Religious of Jesus and Mary, an international order based in Rome. Their US headquarters are located in Washington, DC. Diane works as Service Center Representative at the STM and is in her tenth year working with the Jesuits. She notes, “It is a joy to be here at BC among the young who love God and who plan to continue the good work God has begun.” Another RJM, Janice Farnham, was also part of the “Nunz” for the years during which she taught church history first at Weston and then at the STM.
Sr. Callista Roy, CSJ, -- no stranger to nursing students—is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet from Orange, CA. Sr. Callista came to BC in 1987 as a Professor and Nurse Theorist, specifically to implement the Ph.D. in Nursing. Another Sister of St. Joseph “in the ‘hood” is Sr. Annette McDermott, SSJ (Springfield, MA). Sr. Annette is getting her doctorate in political science at BC and also ministers as a Catholic chaplain at Mt. Holyoke College.
The remaining “Nunz ‘n the hood” are the only representatives of their orders at BC: Sr. Meg Guider, OSF, worked for some years as a lay missionary in Brazil before joining the Franciscans of Joliet, IL. She received her doctorate from Harvard in missiology, began teaching at Weston Jesuit in 1991, and when Weston re-affiliated with BC Sr. Meg continued to teach in the Ecclesiastical Faculty at the STM. Sr. Mary Sweeney, SC, is a Sister of Charity of Halifax. As a BC Campus Minister, Sr. Mary directs the RCIA program and does outreach to graduate students. She’s been at BC for the past eleven years, nine of them as a Resident Minister in Duchesne Hall on the Newton Campus.
I, too, am the sole member of my religious congregation at BC. The IHM Sisters (Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Monroe, MI) have more theologians than we have institutions in which they can serve. So, since 1987 I, too, have been collaborating with the Jesuits, first at the College of the Holy Cross and since 2000, at BC. Like most of the “Nunz ‘n the hood” I always introduce myself as a sister to my classes and use my order’s initials after my name. But I am also comfortable with students calling me “Professor” or “Doctor”—which sometimes surprises them. I started doing that ever since I met an undergrad at Holy Cross who told me he didn’t think that Sisters could actually teach at the college level. “Not only that,” I told him, “but Sisters have founded colleges and universities and have served as their Presidents and Deans!
As Sr. Callista put it, although “Nunz ‘n the Hood” are a loose-knit group, with intermittent get-togethers, we share a special bond together.” Perhaps one of these days we will indeed become a BC acapella group—who knows?