It was two years ago that I did my first stint as sous-chef at Villa Marguerita – the vacation home on the Rhode Island coast belonging to the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame. They work hard in their various ministries – at schools, hospitals, and other non-profits – and then come here for some R&R.
Many people have a view of “women religious” as stern women in habits. That was my image from Catholic elementary school, and when I talk to others about my week here cooking for these sisters I find that a lot of people still have that image. Most people have never thought of Sisters not dressed in habits, let alone sunning on a beach.
When I was here two years ago, I had a funny conversation with my sister Liz that brings home this point. Liz has no bones about speaking her mind nor about verbalizing the questions others only think of but are too scared to ask. The conversation went like this:
Liz (in a whisper – even though we’re on the phone): Do they drink?
Me (with a slight giggle): Yes.
Liz: Do they get drunk?
Liz: Well, how much do they drink?
Me (matter-of-factly): A beer or two with dinner.
Liz (incredulously): They drink beer?!
Me (laughing): Some of them. Some have wine, or a mixed drink.
Liz: Like what kinds of alcohol do they have?
I named off some of things that had graced the drinks cart at dinner. And with that, banished the myth that Sisters are stern, mean women who never relax with a drink:)