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Testimony of a Former Catholic Nun

Mary Ann Collins

I was raised a secular humanist. When I went to college I started investigating Catholicism. After two years of intense study I became a Catholic.

I was zealous. I kept studying the lives of the saints and the teachings of various prominent Catholics. I often went to Mass several times a week, and sometimes every day. I transferred to a Catholic college in order to take classes in religion.

I entered the convent for several reasons. I wanted to be closer to God and to serve Him more whole-heartedly. I wanted to learn more about God and spend my life being more intensely focused on Him. And I believed that God wanted me to be a nun.

The convent was not a healthy place either spiritually or emotionally. Our self-imposed penances and mortifications and other attempts to make ourselves more holy actually encouraged self-righteousness. We were not allowed to have friendships or to be close to any human being. We were supposed to be emotionally detached. We were taught to love people in a detached, impersonal way.

This is not Biblical. When God said, "It is not good for man to be alone," He was referring to more than just marriage. The Bible encourages close relationships.

Our example of the perfect human being is Jesus. He was unmarried but he was not at all emotionally detached. He wept publicly. His heart was "moved with compassion". He made many statements that showed strong emotions. He had friendships, including a "best friend" (John).

I left the convent after two years, before making vows. I was still a novice, undergoing training and "spiritual formation" in preparation for making vows.

Some people have asked me why I refer to myself as a "former nun" when I never made vows. According to the "Catholic Encyclopedia," if a novice has been accepted into a religious order (I was) and has been given a habit (I wore it), then he or she is a monk or a nun in the broad sense of the term.

After I left the convent, I was frustrated with the local Catholic churches. I did not see strong faith or zeal for God. Some of the priests preached things which were so contrary to Scripture that they were acutely distressing to me.

My parents had become Christians and they were members of a Protestant church. I visited their church and discovered that I was hungry for the Bible-based teaching. So for years I went to early morning Mass and then went to my parents' church.

Eventually I left the Catholic Church and joined my parents' church. And I finally found the personal relationship with God that I had been looking for all my life.

I used to be all tied up in rules, regulations and rituals. But now I have found a wonderful, vibrant, personal relationship with the Creator of the universe, who loves me. And with Jesus Christ who loves me so much that He died for me. And He has put a new song in my heart.

Your Word brings life to save my soul.

Your Truth brings light to make me whole.

Your perfect love casts out my fears,

Comforts me, and dries my tears.

I'm in the shadow of Your wings

Where you teach my heart to sing.

Safe and secure from all alarm,

Your faithful love keeps me from harm.

I will bless You all my days.

You fill my heart with songs of praise.

Faith & Reason Forum would like to thank Mary Ann Collins for allowing us to put her personal testimony on our website. Copyright 2002 by Mary Ann Collins. All rights reserved. www.CatholicConcerns.Com