Elders of the Benedictines:
A Portrait and Interview Project
Sister Joeine Darrington, O.S.B., b. 1915
Q: How does the Benedictine tradition serve as foundation for the way you live your physical life?
A: . . . Another aspect of the physical life, and spiritual as well, of Benedictine Sisters was the dramatic change that occurred in our Monastery during the 1960s. I call it the "time of liberation." My first thirty three years were a very different time compared to the years after Vatican II. On August 16, 1966, we were called into one of the most important meetings of my convent life. Our superior announced that we could start experimenting with contemporary dress. Our black habits soon became attractive suits, skirts, and dresses. This change was optional, and difficult for some while easy for others, and unacceptable to those who chose to continue wearing the traditional habit. Another "drastic" announcement was that we would now make decisions for ourselves and assume responsibility as adults. That was a surprise and even a shock. We could now leave the campus by just signing the "check-out" book. We could budget our own small personal allowance. We could accept invitations to dinners, concerts, and plays. We could visit relatives without a companion. How can I convey the sense of freedom, of excitement, of the "new life" that these changes brought? The most important announcement for me was that now we could develop deep, personal friendships, forbidden for so many years. These were innovative, unheard of changes that our Superior believed in. She saw them as implementing the guidelines of Vatican II. Those were truly wonderful days and the changes have continued to be special parts of my day-to-day life