The new habit features handy back pockets for rosaries and holy cards, right.
Moorhead, MN: In the decades-long simmering impasse between "habited nuns" and "street clothes sisters," an order has found a middle way: blue denim habits.
Sr. Anna Maria Lindstrom of The Little Sisters of the Annunciation explained, "Our order, founded in 1720, had our sisters in a traditional black habit. It was elegantly simple but definitely set us apart from the crowd: and that had advantages and disadvantages to our ministry to the working class immigrants to whom we were entrusted. Then Vatican II asked us to consider the roots of our order's charism, and we discerned that our habit had moved from being simple, typical 18th century garb to relatively elaborate 20th century clothing. So we moved to simple laity clothing, and left the veil. It seemed innocent enough."
But then vocations plummeted: because of changes in the culture, the Church, the order, or the Motherhouse cafeteria, Sister Anna Maria is not sure. Some sisters kept the habit. Others kicked it. Everyone began talking more about habits than devotion to God and others. The need was clear: a compromise.
Sr. Jeanne Brown debuted the blue jean habit, with simple denim veil, this March 25 (the feast of the Annunciation).
"We thought when Mary encountered the Holy Spirit, let's be honest: she likely was wearing the equivalent of blue jeans, or work clothes. And blue is a color associated with the Blessed Mother. And so many of our "no habit" sisters were wearing denim jumpers anyway...this wasn't a far stretch," Sr. Jeanne noted.
"I love it," announced Sr. Felicity App. "It's so comfortable and holy at the same time. This wasn't quite the mortification I expected, but I love it all the same."
Sr. Anna Maria pointed out that efforts to maintain some individual flair remained: the sisters could choose dark indigo or acid wash denim habits.
However, the real shock came with the vocations promotion video this Spring, titled "Finally, Jeans That Fit." The video, set to Neil Diamond's Forever in Blue Jeans for organ, picturing grinning blue jean habit clad nuns of every age, and closes with "When we're on our knees--praying to God or tending to God's poor--our good habits hold up." Inquiries went up 50%, and confirmed aspirants are up 30%.
"Praise God and Levi Strauss," said Sr. Anna Maria. "As they advertise, quality never goes out of style. The sisterhood is like that."