TO BE BORN into the Catholic church is to become part of a complex culture with a rich history, but one also that can be oppressive and stifling - especially for women.
'Mother Church' can be awfully masculine in its out look and organisation. An increasing number of women are rebelling against this model of church. They find themselves in a wasteland - 'caught between fidelity to this institution that has been part of my psyche and to God who gives meaning to my life'.
Some leave, some hang on at the fringes of the culture, some stay but in a totally new way. 'I remain in the church', says one, 'through God's grace - and my guts'. They seek to find a community of support, a way of celebrating the important moments in their lives, a means of expressing the spiritual. These stories give testimony to the way they fight to do this. All those who are trying to discover these elements in their lives will find in these stories inspiration and strength.
'Maybe one day, C.C., you and the rest of the boys will discover the goddess in your god and you'll start getting things rights'.
NORA McMANUS, American-born, was the Australian regional superior of the Little Sisters of Jesus for six years. She was diagnosed as having leukaemia early in 1988. In the middle of that year she finalised the decision to leave the congregation. She now lives in outback Australia working as a drama resource person with Aboriginal communities. Early in 1991 she was both naturalised as an Australian and welcomed into an Aboriginal community. Her totem is Nhaampa, the fish.