By Barb Arland-Fye
Every few weeks an email with the subject line “A Nun’s Pocket” arrives in my computer’s inbox, sure to contain a wonderful slice of life from the Sisters of Humility. The latest post from this blog (short for web log) tells how Sister JoAnne Talarico, CHM, got involved in fair sentencing advocacy for juveniles sentenced to life in prison.
Other posts have featured reflections from the youngest Sister of Humility, Lynn Mousel; stories about Our Lady of the Prairie Retreat (a ministry of the Sisters); organic gardening; and journalist Cokie Robert’s visit to Davenport to help kick off the 150th anniversary of the Sisters’ arrival in the U.S.
Lisa Martin, who created “A Nun’s Pocket,” is communications director for the Congregation of the Humility of Mary. I asked her about the impetus for the blog and its clever name.
“Many people look at a blog as the center of the wheel of your social media,” Lisa explained. “We have lots of stories to tell, so the idea of a CHM blog was percolating. But from what angle?”
At a conference Lisa attended, social media expert Heather Mansfield told participants that plenty of religious communities have blogs, but in order to stand out, you need a hook. Provide more insight into the life of a Sister. What, for instance, is in a Sister’s refrigerator? “I’ll never forget that!” Lisa laughed.
Back at the CHM motherhouse in Davenport, Lisa approached the community’s longtime executive assistant, Kelly Bell, for help in finding a hook. Kelly shared a memory of a nun’s habit having really deep pockets because nuns didn’t carry purses or other bags.
Lisa had the hook for the blog and something else: clarity about the blog’s “voice.”
In this description of “A Nun’s Pocket,” which appears above every post, Lisa wrote: “The Sisters of Humility used to wear a habit in which there were some very deep pockets, literally from waist to hem. They kept all kinds of things in those pockets — from lunch to tools to galoshes. They also had deep pockets when it came to giving of themselves. Though the Sisters no longer wear the habit, the depth of their spirit remains unchanged.”
“A Nun’s Pocket” debuted in November 2013 with a touching post about Lisa’s decade-long relationship with the Sisters of Humility. She noted that “The posts in ‘A Nun’s Pocket’ will be about many experiences within this world of women religious and will come from a variety of voices — Sisters, lay staff, friends, and family, speaking about the interesting, faithful, lively, humorous, loving, spiritual and dedicated world of the Sisters of Humility.”
Lisa finds inspiration everywhere, including the community’s bulletin board. A humorous post titled “Sister Roberta Throws a Fit” (Dec. 4, 2013) features a letter that Sister Roberta Brich, CHM, wrote and posted on the bulletin board. Read it to find out what she really thinks of community life! (http://www.anunspocket.com/)
The two biggest compliments about “A Nun’s Pocket” have come from two very different sources. In his homily at the Sisters of Humility’s 150th anniversary Mass, Bishop Martin Amos quoted from “A Nun’s Pocket” banner. Blogger Lisa Gutierrez of the Global Sisters Report shared a post on July 18 from “A Nun’s Pocket” featuring “The Youngest Nun,” Sr. Mousel. Gutierrez recommended readers check out the blog and follow the Sisters on Twitter.
I asked Lisa Martin about the subject of the next post on “A Nun’s Pocket,” but came up empty-handed. I’ll have to wait until that next email notice pops up in my inbox!