What Convent Life Is Really Like In 2017

Photographed by Rockie Nolan.
As is often the case with mainstream religions, misconceptions about sisters and their congregations abound. If your best reference for how a nun or Catholic sister behaves is The Sound of Music, it's high time you broadened your perspective. Nothing against Mother Superior, but the sisters of 2017 look rather different from the stern, pious women of public imagination.
We spoke with Sister Karen Burke of the Sisters of St. Joseph, a congregation of Roman Catholic women, who was more than happy to set the record straight about modern-day nun life. "I think people who remain part of the Church see the changes that have taken place among the sisters," she tells us. More often than not, it's those who have an outdated view of women in the Church who make the biggest (and least accurate) assumptions.
Today's Catholic nuns cannot be painted with a broad brush. Their appearances may have changed and they may serve their communities differently nowadays, but they remain fonts of wisdom when it comes to Christian worship and relating to God on a deeply personal level.
Read on to discover Sister Karen's most eye-opening lessons about faith, service, and living as nun. Even if you're well aware of the work that contemporary sisters do, there's still more for you to learn.