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SMC screens ‘Band of Sisters’

Samantha Grady | Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Saint Mary’s College will screen the film “Band of Sisters,” directed by Mary Fishman, Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in the Carroll Auditorium. A panel discussion and a question and answer session will follow the film.

Molly Gower, professor of Religious Studies and one of the event’s coordinators, said the decision to screen the film on Saint Mary’s campus came from the popularity of a screening held at Notre Dame last spring.

“It’s a film that communicates really important pieces of Catholic history and theology that a lot of students don’t know about in a way that is very easy to watch and easy to learn from,” Gower said. “It’s a documentary, but you don’t feel like you are watching PBS. It focuses on personal stories and the way individual women live.”

The “Band of Sisters” website said this film centers on the remarkable journey of Catholic nuns living in the United States today and their mission as citizens of the world post-Vatican II. The film shares the stories of over a dozen sisters, their perspectives on being faithful citizens, and the inspiring ways in which they are leaving their mark on the world.

The Saint Mary’s website said the film “takes up issues of Catholics as citizen of the modern world, with special attention to the notion of the universal call to holiness.”

Gower said she offered extra credit to students in her Catholic Social Thought class who attended the screening at Notre Dame last spring and was pleased with how much they enjoyed and learned from the film.

“From my perspective in the classroom, it did so much to help students understand pieces of history and theology that are really important,” she said. “The film gave students a context for understanding Catholic Social Thought.”

Gower said the idea of screening the film at Saint Mary’s was exciting because of how meaningful the film was to many students who saw it in the spring.
“We got excited about screening the film at Saint Mary’s as a gift to the students,” she said.    

Gower said she sees this event as an opportunity for students to better understand the history of the Holy Cross community in which they live. Though the Congregation of Holy Cross is not specifically focused on in the film, students will better understand a piece of Holy Cross history and how its mission ties into the lives of many Catholic sisters in America, she said.  

“The film is an important part of understanding what it means to be Catholic in America today and what it means especially to be studying at an institution sponsored by the sisters,” Gower said.   

Explicit connections with the film to the Holy Cross sisters will be offered through the panelists perspectives after the film, according to Gower.

The panel will include Mary Fishman, producer and director of “Band of Sisters,”; Sr. Elena Malits, Holy Cross sister and professor emerita of religious studies at Saint Mary’s; Sr. Jessica Brock, novice, attorney and musician:; Sr. Betty Smoyer, former Saint Mary’s campus minister and Kathleen Sprows Cummings, associate professor of American Studies at Notre Dame.

“One thing we hope will come out in the panel discussion is the relationship between the history and theology that you learn about in the film and how it connects to the sisters of the Holy Cross and to the history and mission of Saint Mary’s College,” Gower said.  

This event is sponsored the College’s Department of Religious Studies, the Department of Humanistic Studies,  the Center for Spirituality, the Program in Gender and Women’s Studies, the Program in Justice Education and the Cushwa-Leighton Library.

“Band of Sisters” is 86 minutes long and will be followed by 30 minutes of panel discussion and an open question session at the end.

Contact Samantha Grady at sgrady01@saintmarys.edu