Volume 95, Issue 92

Wednesday, March 27, 2002
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Dig deep to find that Innerstate

The decline in nuns exposed!

Long play simply dies

The decline in nuns exposed!

Poverty, Chastity, Obedience

Directed By: Cornelia Principe

Two stars (out of five)

By Christina McKenzie
Gazette Staff

In 1960 there were 59,712 nuns in Canada; last year there were less than 23,000 – the average age of a sister being 71.

These facts are brought to light in the documentary Poverty, Chastity, Obedience. While trying to understand why one of the sisters, Joanne O'Regan, feels that she is "called to do Christ's work," the viewer comes to understand the challenging decisions involved in choosing a life of devotion as a sister.

In the purposeful juxtaposition of fast-paced scenes of Toronto life with the peace of mind that rests in prayer, director Cornelia Principe demonstrates why some women may want to make the religious vow.

The camera captures the fears, decisions and self-discoveries of O'Regan. She is a 35-year-old event coordinator; who has been in love, smokes and drinks and also expresses that there is "more to this life than money, power and sex."

Surprisingly, O'Regan tells her viewers that, many years ago, she would never have imagined joining the convent.

There is a haunting quality to the documentary, as certain images switch back and forth from statues of the Virgin Mary to highly sexualized and seductive images of women on media billboards.

As time passes, the sisters realize that the religious life is no longer as desirable for young women as it once was. The women in the documentary understand their chosen paths are not seen with passionate eyes by today's majority.

Poverty, Chastity, Obedience, a co-production with the National Film Board of Canada, airs tonight on TVO at 10:45p.m..

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Copyright The Gazette 2002