I’m a tad distressed….

I can’t recall when I hurt this much over something I’ve read online … apparantly, a post on my little blog has put someone off their calling to religious life at Colwich Abbey simply because I posted a photograph and wrote on my blog, of my joy of my retreat experiences there.

A Colwich sister has just responded to this comment from an enquirer on the Colwich blog

Here is the comment from the Colwich enquirer

Dear Sr. Marie Therese,

I saw a post with a picture on a blog that had a picture of your nun’s chapel with folding chairs up the aisle and the post said that a group of Union Catholic Mothers was attending a retreat or was there to hear a speaker or something.

I thought that chapel was for the nuns only. Do you have the public in your chapel a lot? Are the nuns there with the public when they are in the chapel? I thought Colwich had a public side to the chapel like other monasteries.

The blog page I saw is at: https://catholicconvert.wordpress.com/2007/09/24/union-of-catholic-mothers-retreat/

I was going to write about my vocation but I was strangely sad to see that picture and read the response the blogger gave to another woman with the same question.

But I do still love your blog and website and I will still write but I just wanted to know about this. Thanks, you do have a wonderful way of writing about your life, vocation and about Colwich Abbey!


Here is how Colwich Sr. Marie Therese responds….

Hi Jenn, thanks for letting us know about this, i checked out the site and we are shocked and a little hurt at the intimations of this picture and the comment especially as it has put you off talking about your vocation – this concerns us. People come here, take pictures without us knowing then put them up for the world to see without explaining. I have to go to midday office now, but i am going to post about this later today and explain the situation.
I am really glad you like our blog and have been supporting us with it and i hope my post later helps to clarify things a little for you and others. For now i will just say that this group comes once a year, for the day, they have a talk by a Bishop they have arranged to come, they have mass alone – we have already had ours early in the morning before they arrive, they have adoration alone – the sisters are not part of this. The chairs are there because many more come than we expect and we feel we can’t then turn them away. This is very unusual for us, it is not part of our ‘ordinary’ life – and this particularly bad picture gives the wrong impression. The group does join us for midday office – but that may now be under consideration.
Thanks once again for letting us know about this,
pax sr marie-therese.

In addition to this comment, I have also read another Colwich Sr’s comment stating that they do not interact with those on retreat and that they were unaware of any photographs being taken…this is simply untrue, the sisters I met while on retreat there, did indeed know about the photographs….some of the sisters were even IN the photographs and I have more photographs of them sitting cheerily alongside our UCM mothers…they were completely unperturbed to be photographed…. and they did mingle with us on retreat. As for the comments about my photographs being ‘intimation’ and ‘poor’ …I would like to know what that means exactly.

I don’t know if my comment response to Sr. Marie Therese will be printed on the Colwich blog, so I’ll put it here for all to see…


I do beg your pardon, but what on earth have I done wrong but speak of the joy i had on retreat on both occassions I visited your wonderful Abbey. I’m horrified and deeply hurt at your reaction to this.

I apologise if I have caused distress by merely highlighting your beautiful convent on my blog, and of speaking of the experience I enjoyed while there. I shall not make the mistake of thinking myself welcome in future.

As for the ‘particularly bad picture’ you refer to…as a photographer who was allowed (and given permission) to take photographs while on retreat, and a professional photographer for years, I am offended. What makes the photograph bad….the angle, the pixels, that I photographed what I saw? And what, please do be so kind as to tell me, are the ‘intimations’ to which you refer?

Gosh, Adele spoke such beautifully kind words to me in a question I wrote on this very page…and now I find that I am under attack?

All you had to do was to ask me to remove the posts about Colwich from my blog and I would have given it serious thought….here is a link to the other post where one of your sisters was indeed interacting with the public on one of my previous visits!

I have had conversations with sisters at Colwich despite your stressing that this is out of the ordinary…. with Sr. Davina in particular.

I used to really enjoy visiting your blog, reading and partaking in the Q and A page, supporting your blog in the Catholic Blog Awards, visiting you when possible on retreat….in fact, this very day I was speaking with a friend about my wonderful Colwich experience and of how I have remained single from my annulled marriage for almost 9 years and that I suspect that I may yet discern a calling to religious life when the children are old enough to care for themselves and are living independantly of me.

I’m crushed quite frankly.

I can’t believe it. I just can’t believe it. I just feel like quitting this whole blogging thing if I’m putting people off their religious vocations, or at least their vocations to certain convents. That’s a real pill to swallow.

How long will I get in Purgatory for that?

Seriously, I haven’t cried hard for at least a day or two so I’m just going to go and break my heart in the bath for a while and have a good think about what the hell I’m doing blogging anymore if sisters who have sat with me, talked with me, prayed with me….can speak of me as having been at fault for merely writing about my positive experience with them .

I have lost a lot of faith in the church (small c) over the last few months, but it now feels like I am losing so much more, that all that I thought was good and true isn’t as I thought it was at all. I’m not doubting my Catholic Faith folks, don’t worry…it’s just that things are difficult right now.

What did I do wrong?

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42 Responses to I’m a tad distressed….

  1. John Bowden says:

    Now come on Deb, you should know by now how fickle we human beings can be not to mention how iffy the translations can be of email, comments etc. Most of the time we get it right or close to right but I wouldn’t let this get too out of hand in your head!

    Remember – Satan prowls like a hungry lion looking for souls to devour – only the less vigilant will be devoured – remain vigilant, pray always – it’ll be ok.

    Don’t stop blogging – you’ve a great place here and though I’ve had to decrease my time online for other than work I find your site a regular stop on my rounds. I no longer visit those “sycophants” – so many, so full of themselves, so boring!

    Hang in there .. I’ll keep coming ’round in hopes you’ll sing the rest of the song some day!

  2. barbszy says:

    That makes no sense! I have no idea what, in your original post, would cause someone to LOSE A VOCATION. Bizarre. There’s got to be more than meets the eye going on.

  3. Antonia says:

    Debb, I am so sorry this incident has been so upsetting.

    But for what it’s worth, I don’t think it’s YOUR problem or your fault in ANY WAY whatsoever.

    All you did was innocently display one photograph of a true event that you attended. You didn’t lie or decieve, you weren’t uncharitable or cruel. You weren’t disobeying any regulations or rudely ignoring anything anyone has told you.

    If such a small photograph of a few plastic chairs has caused someone to lose an entire vocation to religious life, then I would certainly question how strong that vocation was in the first place. Something true and strong that we love and believe is from God, isn’t lost because of something petty like this.

    But reading the girl’s post, it didn’t sound like she has lost her WHOLE desire for religious life, it just sounds like she was a bit saddened to find that this community isn’t as cloistered as she has initially thought they were.

    But that’s fine, it’s not your fault. You didn’t do anything ‘wrong’.

    From a moral point of view, you are not to ‘blame’ for anything. Don’t feel guilty for anything because there is NOTHING for you to feel guilty for.

    I hope the girl gets in touch with you and explains.

    God Bless


  4. Oh Debbie, look at it this way, if that lassie was so easily put off, then maybe that’s just what God wanted for her – perhaps she doesn’t have a vocation to Colwych! I have to admit, in my young and foolish days, when I was looking around for a convent to join, if I’d seen all those ugly plastic chairs in a chapel, I’d have been put off – that’s not to criticise your photo. If I’d been stupid enough to have believed that they were permanently there, I might have thought, ah, the Colwych life is not aesthetically pleasing enough for my delicate little soul, I must henceforth away elsewhere. And God would have been laughing away thinking, something along the lines of “phew, good job she got put off going there, I couldn’t have borne having to listen to her moaning about her spiritual life from inside that convent, when I have every intention that she will meet her handsome A. who I have lined up for her.”
    See, it works both ways.
    Cheer up love, dry those eyes, and laugh at yourself, and everyone else. We’re all a bunch of buffoons, really!

  5. Cathy Keller says:

    I am sorry for you and how you must feel injured by this. It has to be even more disappointing since you are seriously discerning entering the convent. How is it that they had not seen your blog before? Are they not allowed to visit other sites. Surely, they would have seen the picture before now. That baffles me. God bless you…

  6. Mimi says:

    Dearest Deb, I cannot imagine you causing *anyone* to lose their vocation, I agree with the lovely Barb that there is an undertone to the story.

    Prayers and love, you have only increased love for Christ from where I am.

  7. marieteresa says:

    hello, I just wanted to say thank you for posting your photos of colwich. I find it wonderful to get a different point of view…please do continue to blog. Please don’t feel distressed…..you will be in my prayers.

  8. TO says:

    They’re all clearly mental. You’ve done nothing wrong. Hold your head up high, Deb.

  9. Deb,

    I am so sorry to hear that you and your photograph were attacked. I thought that it was a very good photograph.

    It sounds like you had a wonderful retreat experience. Try to hang on those good thoughts of the time you spent growing in your faith.

    The young woman with a supposed vocation; it sounds like she has much to work on inher own life. Don’t be concerned with her- You know the Devil likes to put those distractions in our midst. Don’t waste your time and energy on it.

    The sisters need to be more forthright about what they are saying to people. If they don’t want the photograph on your blog they should just say so. Pray for them!!!!!!!

    Continue to remain strong in Christ- we are human with foibles and imperfections and strong emotions.. But HE is perfect and we need Him to help us through it all.

    You are a good person with a great blog! Don’t let the Devil get you down! There’s so much good that you can do and reach many souls!

    God Bless,


  10. Suzanne says:

    Listen to your friends here, sweetheart. You didn’t do anything wrong but share your love for the Lord by what your received on your retreat. The young woman is trying to discern and this is so important to
    remember… Satan is out to get her, get to the other sisters and having quite a little party here. Beware…THAT is what is really going on. We all should hope and pray that the young woman gets that, the other sisters who misunderstand get that and that you realize that in your heart as well…don’t let the creep win! Come Holy Spirit…ST. Michael…defend us in battle! Amen


  11. I don’t see that you did anything wrong, Deb. And I like the photograph. Maybe someone was being a little defensive? Maybe some disagreement among the sisters that has nothing to do with you? Be at peace.

  12. Holly says:

    See this is where religion loses me. Disagreements that seem to spring up out of nothing. I’ve read over the communications you have posted and tried to understand what has caused the problem (and being Catholic probably not understanding a lot of the particulars), and I just don’t get it.
    Right now my church is splitting over how to dress the chalice and whether or not incest is burnt. I’m just sitting in the middle thinking “what on earth is going on here?!”
    The love of God, I get.
    Living by the bible, I get.
    Going to church and growing in faith with others, I get.
    All this other crap? You’ve lost me.

  13. Holly says:

    hee, incest. I meant of course incense. Someone must have slipped that Freudian in there.

    But anywho, I just don’t get why religion needs all these rules and etiquette. Shouldn’t all actions be judged on their intention? It’s hardly as if you were jumping up and down on communion wafer like they were Autumn leaves.

  14. Tom says:


    As someone who has discerned (quite seriously) a vocation to the priesthood, I would argue that anyone who is put-off religious life by a subtle comment made on the web, is someone who never had a vocation to begin with. You may have done that person a great service, and the Church, too!!!

  15. ukok says:


    You’re the voice of calm in the storm…it’s like when the disciples were tying themselves in knots about the storm and Jesus said, ‘Calm down! I can handle it’….or something to that effect 😉

    Thank you for helping me to put this into perspective…the songbird will go on !


    I read the Colwich comments through teary eyes, so I misread that the girl has entirely lost her vocation, but she has, apparently, been put off living her vocation at Colwich because of my photograph…but that alone is just bizarre if you ask me.


    One of the things I love about you is that for one so young you always have this uncanny way of writing what I need to hear! O wise young woman! Thank you for reassuring me that I am not at fault, it’s just a shame that Sisters with whom I have worshipped God in prayer couldn’t have reassured me that I hadn’t committed a mortal sin…the way they write about my innocent posting, you’d think I had!

  16. ukok says:

    Maggie Clitheroe,

    Thanks for sharing about your own period of discernment… and for your supportive comment. I think that for a few plastic chairs to sway a person so greatly as to deter a them from living out their vocation where that they had previously felt God to be calling them…well I think that errs on the side of scrupulosity and if I was this persons spiritual director, I’d certainly be concerned about such a minor thing having such a bizarrre effect on them. The sight of pastic chairs = unpredictable behaviour, who’d have thought it?

    I can understand that some people want an absolute way of life, but nothing is ever like what it says on the packet. I’m also concerned with the way the sisters have handled this, they haven’t posted my comment as yet (they could be praying for the world I suppose)…and I feel that is unfair. Most unfair though, is how they refer to the ‘poor photograph and post’ and of how my innocent little post has detrimentally affected ‘Jenn’. Neither has it escaped my notice that the Sisters write that they allow ‘these women’ into their sacred abode on only one day a year…which is fair enough, I just don’t like the way they write about us as if we are a gross inconvenience though….so they pray for us, but they don’t really want to know us (I get that they are an enclosed order, but there’s more to this)…they judge a picture, and a persons motives, but claim that they have mine and the other inhabitants of the worlds best interests at heart. I find that ever so slightly contradictory.

    Thanks so much for your support, and no nonsense closing comment.
    : -)


    You darling! Thank you for your concern, I have indeed been very distressed by this….when I first read the comments on the Colwich blog, I thought it was my medication playing tricks on me….and yes…truth be told, if I had thought I would perhaps discern a vocation anywhere, in later years, I believe it would have been there at Colwich if they would have accepted me. And even now I can’t help but wonder if perhaps ‘Jenn’ wasn’t the one meant to discern her calling at Colwich, but rather, me….

    Now to clarify my vocation ramblings, I must state quite clearly that I have the hope that I will marry if it be God’s will….I can’t seem to stop thinking about sharing my life with a man, I have the hope of that….but I will do God’s will, whatever that may be…I’ve remained single and continent for 9 years this September…I have remained this way so that I could follow God’s will for my life. As a young woman I had a belief that God wanted me to be a nun, but I knew no committed Christians, no practicing Catholics…and I had no guidance or direction and I consequently doubted my belief in God and I went completely off the rails…when years later I eventually gave my life to God, and backed that up with more than words, I knew I had to give my whole life to him and not just a part of it, he had to have my sexuality, he had to have the keys to my heart…so it’s really all up to him, Cathy.

    I want to serve Him, however he chooses that to be. I have been gravely harmed by men in past relationships, but I still believe in love, I still believe there might be someone intended for me….I just don’t know whom the man is yet, perhaps it’s been Jesus all along? I just don’t know. Everytime I have thought it might be a man I have met, he’s gone off and married someone else, or shown no interest in me whatsoever, so it’s just a case of living my life and allowing God to reveal it all to me when I’m ready to embrace what he reveals to me, maybe.



    Thank you so much for your kind words of reassurance. I hope you know something of the joy I gain from our friendship and that I too have only grown more in love of Christ for reading your insightful blog posts, from experiencing this friendship we share that crosses religious boundaries and that allows us, despite having somewhat different faith journeys, to embrace one another as sisters in Christ.



    THANK YOU so much for commenting that you welcome my blogging about Colwich and for allowing you to get a different perspective. I really appreciate your taking the time to post here, so once again, many thanks!


    God Bless you my friend, I’ve responded on your FB wall 

  17. seekeruk says:

    Deb, you have done nothing at all wrong here!

    The girl is being foolish to say that she is put off Colwich because of your blog. In any case…… if she is interested in joining them, she should go see them herself and not rely on blogs for info!

    The nun’s reaction seems to me to be creeping to appease a potential candidate, whilst totally disregarding your feelings. (It sounds as if there is also some very poor communication going on as regards your permission to take the photos.) As someone who myself attended two convent schools in my long-ago youth, I would say that – whilst there are some good nuns – many fail to really carry out the true spirit of their calling. But then, I guess that they are only human like the rest of us!

    I understand you being upset, but at the same time I do feel that you are over-reacting just a little bit. From my own perrsonal experience, I am often over-sensitive and tend to over-react when I am feeling low-in-confidence and depressed myself. If you were feeling happier about yourself, you would not let this get to you so much!

    Whatever you do, don’t let this make you stop blogging!

  18. Deb, I think that’s what I was trying to get across, when you say,
    “I think that for a few plastic chairs to sway a person so greatly as to deter a person from living out their vocation where that person had previously felt God to be calling the person…well I think that errs on the side of scrupulosity”- I agree with you, although I wouldn’t necessarily call it scrupulosity, more a lack of being able to see beyond the material environment!
    As you say, the posting of one comment on the blog, but not your reply does not seem fair.
    However, I’d just like to ask – is the blog the opinion of just one nun? Does it reflect the whole community? You can not allow yourself to be put off the community (if you were to discern a call to them) by this incident either. Imagine a room full of opinionated, strong willed women, all trying to get their point of view across – that’s what convent life can be like. Women don’t become instant saints because they are in a convent – my Aunt (RIP) was a Carmelite for 60 odd years, and I have heard plenty about convent life. They make mistakes, some of them are downright petty, mean and nasty JUST like the rest of us (at times). BUT they are trying to live out a vocation, and have given up a lot of worldly junk to do so. They do have to try and control their opinions and individual will – some manage better than others. (Remember the story of the horrible nun who was mean to St Bernadette, because she was jealous of her – life really can be like that sometimes – it helped to increase St Bernadette’s sanctity). I pray that you use this hurt as God intends you to.
    Big Hug!!

  19. ukok says:


    Thank you for taking the time to read the post and comment here, I am grateful of your encouragement. I agree with you that Satan tries to infiltrate the minds of faithful Christians and that indeed we must pray for one another, that the hurt must pray for the hurt.

    I’m glad you liked the photograph, I did too…that’s also what’s sad about this, when I look at it, it helps me to remember the positive experience I had while on retreat…and now that is sadly overshadowed, and I suspect that I will never return there again.

    I’m glad you like the blog and I thank you for your support….over the years I do feel that… well, I have been told by visitors, that they have found benefit in visiting my little corner of cyberspace and I hope it still serves a purpose today, just a it has in the past. Once again, thank you!


    I concur with you, my friend (((hug)))

    (Love the pics of your family in your recent post!!!)


    Thank God for you. I have had a restless nigh’ts sleep and was dreading getting up this morning and seeing not only no comments in the com box, but only negative comments…and I had a lovely surprise, lot’s of support, encouragement and bewilderment equal to my own about what this is really all about!

    And then I read your comment and I did something I didn’t think I would do today, I laughed out loud! Thanks to your Freudian slip!

    Today we find out the result of my son’s recent blood tests and the doctor will examine the lump on his head…today is all seriousness and lots of tears welling up inside…I bloody well needed a good laugh!

    And yes, I really do agree with you, that there are some religious nuts amongst we fruitcakes…it’s very sad. You know I’m not liberally minded, but I fail to see the point in intensely anal, tragi-contemplation.

    God Bless you!

    p.s. tell ‘em to burn the incense, forget playing dress up with the chalice….and if they can do away with the incest that’s occurring in the parish, they’ll not spend so long in Purgatory!


    Thankyou!!!! I appreciate your having shared your thoughts about this because I know that you have seriously discerned whether or not you had a vocation to religious life. It means a lot to me that you do think that I have not done anything wrong, since I genuinely would not want to be the cause of putting anyone off either their vocation, or where they test their vocation. Many thanks!


    I appreciate your comment, and I agree with you!

    Though I would tend to say that I am a little overly emotional and overly sensitive at present, rather than overreacting …although one can, I admit, be the cause of the other 🙂

    Yes, I am overly sensitive at the moment – I am not making excuses for my over sensitivity but there are worries about the lump we found on my 12 year olds head a few weeks ago and we get some blood results today and another doctors examination…it could all be good news, or it could be what we don’t want to hear….but also, I am overly sensitive because I actually believed I had an affinity with Colwich Abbey and some of the nuns there…and because I considered that if God were calling me to religious life at some point, that that would be one of the places I would like to go to discern my vocation….and well, I even have been encouraging my teen daughter to be open to the possibility of discerning a ‘call’ and just the other week I mentioned Colwich Abbey to her, and made a point of mentioning Sr. Davina as an example of a young person discerning their call to religious life!

    Of course, now my daughter has read this this post and even though I think she would resist a call if she had one, at the time being anyway…..I think she feels that I hav been referred to unfairly, she feels hurt just as I do about this, for she went on retreat with me both times to Colwich, and feels offended on my behalf, she has sat with the sisters and listened to what they had to say, y’see…one of them spoke about how she became a religious.

    I also agree with you that the nun who responded, Sr. Marietherese, was appeasing ‘Jenn’ with her comment…but at what cost I wonder? For one who has such a sensitivity to plastic chairs has been the cause of much pain other than her own and has harmed not only my opinion but my daughters and potentially many who go on annual retreat there with the UCM. My friends and family members are many among them and while I will strongly encourage them to go , I know that I will no longer feel able to do so.

    What puzzled me, was why on earth that whole dialogue about me and my blog would happen?….why wasn’t it an email discussion with the Sisters….rather than a blog for all to see? I need never have known about this! I would have gone on thinking fondly of Colwich and the sisters there.

    Or if the nun had emailed me about the problem theyhad with my blogging about them and informed me of their concern…I would have seriously thought about removing the photo that seemed to cause them such offence (they have my email as I commented on their wordpress blog and you can’t post on WordPress without an email address).

    It just seems a little bit pathetic to get this wound up over a mixture of plastic and metal.

    Thanks for your comment, Seeker, it is much appreciated 🙂

    Maggie Clitheroe

    You write with wisdom.

    Of course I would not be deterred from a community because of one incident alone, but I also wouldnt feel very welcomed in it.

    I have also read the way one of the nuns writes about the annual visits by the UCM and I think that she (they?) would rather have their eyeballs plucked out than have to endure it.

    I don’t think I would ever like to be a part of anything like that, if that is how the whole community feels. It seems very uncharitabe and not in the least befitting for a blog maintained by nuns, to write about their community being ‘shocked and hurt’ (it’s a tad dramatic a reaction wouldn’t you say!) by my posting a photograph and writing a couple of posts about them….especially as the only motive behind said posts was of praise and thanksgivng to God for the Abbey and for the retreats that I had so enjoyed!

    Frankly, I think the way they have handled this has been ridiculous.

    There hasn’t been any communication between myself and the sisters, no attempt at understanding on their behalf, no appreciation that ‘I’ was feeling drawn to Colwich (perhaps it was on behalf of my teen daughter….God works in mysterious ways doesn’t he?), no apology for jumping to conclusions or highlighting and referring to my post, and by extension, myself as having been at fault, no further explanation of what is being referred to as ‘intimation’ regarding my photograph….and it’s all been in such a judgemental way.

  20. Carol says:

    Hmm.. I didn’t really read the young lady as being put off a vocation there, but her concern is valid. This is a lifelong choice she is making. I don’t know anything about this abbey, but if it’s pretty much cloistered, I, too, would’ve asked about the folding chairs etc. — there are indeed some extraordinarily liberal nuns around, and if that is not what one is looking for, one has to ask outright. I just don’t know why the sister who spoke to your photo was so crabby about it. That was unfair to many.

  21. Owen says:

    Patently stupid. Little miss doesn’t likely have a vocation to begin with and one might have to reconsider whether the silly nuns there do either. Apart from the fact that this happened to a friend, you Deb, I would be killing myself laughing.

  22. Melanie says:

    Lydia’s fever finally broke, and she’s agreeing to sit next to me, rather on top of me — so I can comment now. YOU have nothing to feel badly about. Whether or not this young lady has a calling really can’t come down to a simple photograph on the internet! That nun sounds crabby, but the Church is made up of lots of people with all their faults. I would let it go and continue on your merry way.

  23. mum6kids says:

    I am sorry you have been through this. But if a folding chair puts someone off serving the Lord in the way He calls them to then…well…that’s a bit odd really isn’t it?
    I hope you receive a proper reply from the sisters and as good Catholic ladies they could apologise.

    God bless {{hug}}
    Keep up the good work.

  24. If someone is joining a closed order in order never to see anyone from the public ever again – then it’s good that they know that the mass in this convent is open to the public and their solitude might be broken …

    if that puts them off joining this order – but joining one which is even more closed – so be it

    no purgatory for that sis 🙂

    I think it’s good that you didn’t post any photos of the sisters there – that wouldn’t be respecting their privacy – and frankly I’m rather suprised they allow photography at all

    blogging is tricky – we write what’s going on in our lives – and that of course overlaps with lives of others …

    as for the content of the comment from the nun – who knows – but that’s outside your area of responsibility. If you asked for permission to post and publish then you did all you were expected to

    as for folding chairs 🙂 I doubt that’s the real issue here. I expected to see a deckchair in lavish colours of something

    keep your chin up
    keep blogging
    keep loving the Lord

    Lorna xx

  25. “when I look at it, it helps me to remember the positive experience I had while on retreat…and now that is sadly overshadowed, and I suspect that I will never return there again.” …

    Now THAT is Satan at work.

    Don’t turn your back on a source of meeting with God – because of someone’s opinions Deb. That’s crazy. And not from God!

  26. Gabrielle says:

    Deb, it certainly seems like a hasty response from the novice master who handles the comments there, with no sense of understanding your original post at all. I was surprised, also, to see that they are Benedictines; part of their rule, I believe, is to welcome strangers, and it seems to me that opening up their cloister a few times a year for retreatants would be one way of fulfilling their rule. I think you really deserve an apology from them.

    Also, re “imitate”, if you reread it (maybe someone above already said this, but I missed it), what they actually said was what your photograph was “intimating”, i.e., “suggesting” (to them and they feared to others) – that the folding chairs were always there in the chapel. But I think anyone who read your original post would have found it obvious that the chairs were only there because there was a retreat taking place.

  27. Karen H. says:

    Hi Deb…I concur … it’s *their* problem for going over the edge like that. I don’t see that you did anything wrong. consider for a moment:

    Did you ever live in a college dorm. It’s a truism that at the beginning of the academic year, women are all on different menstrual cycles. By the end fo the academic year, they’re all on the same cycle. Maybe it was the time of month when they were all PMS’ing.

  28. marieteresa says:

    Hi again, Just wanted to say that the reason why you haven’t received a response is because the sisters are on retreat. So that probably means no access to email or blogs. Take care and God Bless

  29. ukok says:

    That’s possible, marieteresa, but I posted my comment before the last commenters on their Q and A thread did, I think the sisters have purposesly chosen to ignore me 😦

    I find that both shocking and upsetting, as mine was a genuine request for clarification of what I did wrong and why they chose to use their blog to publicise their distase at my post rather than emailing me and ‘Jenn’ privately (they had my email address as i’d commented on their bog before).

    In fact, looking over those comments on their Q and A thread…. they have posted comments they received even yesterday…and mine was posted 3 or 4 days before that…on the 30th April I believe (going by the date of this very post).

    How sad that they choose to adopt an attitude devoid of compassion and understanding, and rather than reaching out and calming my anxiety about a situation I knew nothing about with regard to the upset it would cause….well, if I were discerning my vocation it would certainly not be with the Colwich Sisters based solely on the appalling way they have handled this situation, and publically at that.

    And what I find most ironic is that one of the sisters/postulants even commented on the original photo 6 months ago…on my oh so very ‘contrary’ post…never mentioning that it was a probem. She saw the photo months ago and never had a problem with it….until last week…

    I am resoundingly saddened that the very people I would expect to be as Jesus to me, cannot find it within their hearts to communicate to one that they know is hurting
    due to their response to an innocent post intended to praise.

    Thanks for stopping by again!

  30. maryclare says:

    Dear UKOK,
    I am also someone who reads and enjoys the Colwich Noviciate website. I do not have any affiliation with the community, nor have I had the priviledge of visiting as you have. I suppose Sisters choice of words may have been a little unwise, but my take on it was that to publish such a photograph without the explanation that it is extremely unusual to allow the general public access to the Choir (within the Monastic enclosure), did give a wrong impression…that impression being that ‘they are not as enclosed as I thought’.
    Permission should always be sought from the community concerned a) to take the photo in the first place which you say that you had done, b) permission should be sought from the community (as it should when you have photographed anyone whoever they are) before you publish those photos in any media. Common courtesy demands this, and as an experienced photographer I guess you already know this.
    Also the Sister who is currently writing the blog is a novice and is not permitted close contact with the public so was entirely correct in what she had written for/about her situation. Charity demands however that where a member of the public talks to a Religious/Nun, even where silence should be maintained that one should respond so as not to give offence or to appear unkind. The Rule I believe gives some provision for this. I am glad that you had some good conversations with Sr Davina.
    About the lack of response from the Sister(s). They are currently on retreat and do not blog when in retreat. It has nothing whatever to do with them lacking compassion or christian charity or whatever else you said.
    Dear UKOK I understand that you were a little hurt by what was said, perhaps maybe with a little justification. However I feel that your resonses and interactions with those commenting on your blogsite have said some very uncharitable thing about the sisters, in a manner that to me far surpasses the original offense you suffered. Catholic that you are perhaps you should forgive the sister for what she said, and maybe reflect on your admitted sensitivity…. perhaps this might be a way that God is helping you to grow (spiritually I mean) out of this. Trials are meant to make us grow stronger.
    I mean this in love… the only one who is suffeing in this is you.
    Forgiving will be your way to recover from this.
    Don’t take it out on the Church bcause you feel that someone
    (with the emphasis on the ONE) has, you feel, acted uncharitably towards you…thats going to separate you from the blessings of the Sacraments and I agree with some of the other people, that that is the devil at work.
    Please pray about it, as I willl pray for you. Don’t miss out on the retreat of the UCM especially if it is at the Abbey next year.
    Regards maryclare

  31. ukok says:


    I can’t help but wonder if you took the time to read the comments I wrote in the combox along with the post.

    Firstly, if you think that I have been uncharitable, please point out where and in what way.

    Secondly, as I have written in a previous comment, my comment (on their blog) to the sisters was posted before many of the others were permitted to be published on their Q and A thread…..which means that they were fully aware of my comment and chose not to allow it to be displayed. Fully aware of my confusion and hurt, but chose not to respond to me, knowing that I have been a friend of Colwich and mean no harm to them…..that I had offended them unwittingly…they sought not to heal the situation, but to ignore me.

    Thirdly, I HAVE prayed about it.

    Fourthly, I have spoken about this with my parish priest who happens to think it’s as bizarre as I do!

    Fifthly, Yes I am Catholic, and I have already forgiven the sisters! Why you would presume to have to advise me to do so is beyond my comprehension.

    But this isn’t about forgiveness.

    It’s about a simple misunderstanding that could have been dealt with in an entirely different way if the Nuns had not reacted to my photograph, posts and comments, as they chose to.

    Sixthly, for the record….I DID ask the sisters for permission to take photographs AND when we returned form retreat I even put them on our old parish website with the permission of our priest!

    Seventhly (okay I don’t know if that’s even a word) All I have done – in defence of the nuns criticism – is to write this post responding to their criticism of myself and my motives. I have done this because there has been no communication with the sisters, even though I have attempted it (before they went on retreat). They have sought solely to soothe the wounds of someone timid enough to be put off testing their vocation at Colwich due to a few plastic chairs. I don’t care which way you slice it and dice it THAT is what this comes down to.

    Rather than be pleased that so many Catholic women WANT to retreat at Colwich, the Sisters response has been rather unfavourable….stressing to ‘Jenn’ that we only go on one day of the year…and that we could hardly be turned away…..for many of us it is the ONLY retreat we may go on and we PAY for the experience, with donations to Colwich and for the Coach transport etc. The sisters are going on a retreat for days, we mothers get just one day, and even that is now overshadowed by the poor way in which they have responded to a post that was genuinely born out of delight at having been to Colwich.. In these times, it is to be positively praised that so many catholic mothers are taking their vocations as wives and mothers as seriously as they do and it is, i must stress, WE mothers who are raising the next generation of priests and NUNS!

    Quite what the women of the UCM would think if they knew all this, I don’t know….I should imagine they’d think that we bloggers are all a load of silly buggers for getting into this tangle in the first place….and do you know what, they’d be right. But I didn’t start this. I have no inclination to perpetuate it. But wrong is just WRONG.

    In addition to all this, could you tell me what you mean by ‘don”t take this out on the Church’? and explain how I am separating myself from the Sacraments? I can assure you I’m doing neither thing, but I would like you to support your comment and point out in what way I am doing so.

    And with all that said, I will not be returning to Colwich this year, and may not ever again.

    This has, in my opinon, been dealt with vey badly by the Colwich Sisters, and also, in my opinion, it should be taken under review (advisement from their superiors) as to whether in fact the Sisters should continue to blog at all, if this is the way they handle minor insensitivities that ‘shock’ and ‘horrify’ them!

  32. ukok says:

    Thanks for your responses all. On another note, I must say that I accidentallly thought the sisters had claimed the photograph was an ‘imitation’, rather than an ‘intimation’ (they did referr t it as being ‘poor’, however)…and in my original commment to the sisters (after reading their Q and A thread I was deeply hurt and distressed, not seeing very cleary…) hence, the next day I re-read what they had written and realised my error about that one thing…having said that I think they could have clarified what they meant by referring to it as in intimation, in that particular instance. (yes i do know what the word means, but they seemed to mean it more to scold than to educate that plastic chairs were not the norm)

    And all in all, it changes nothing about the way this was handled by the Sisters.

  33. maryclare says:

    My (ukok’s ) reponses are in bold as this is so lengthy a comment to respond to separately that I would forget half of what i was responding too!

    Dear Ukok,
    Thanks for the reply.
    I have read every one of the replies in the combox several times over. You will see that I have as I reply.
    You invite me to to answer your points and I will endeavour to do so. I not responded in the same order that you wrote them, but have added your point number to them so that you can see which bit I am dealing with. OK?


    1)+3) I feel that you were uncharitable in this ( and I use your own words to illustrate) “I have read that the way one of the nuns writes about the annual visits by the UCM and think that
    she (they?) would rather have thieir eyeballs plucked out than to have to endure it”.
    Your words describing the Sisters as having an ‘attitude devoid of compassion and understanding’, in an open setting (in the blog), knowing that they are unable to respond to that accusation and that it would cause them some hurt or dismay.

    Accusation? It isn’t an acusation, it is a thought response to the unfeeling words on their blog. The sisters were FULLY able to respond. They also chose not to take this to email and so as far as I’m concerned, if the only way I can defend my original posting of the photograph it to write a post about it, I will do so.

    Your comment just above this also for example ‘yes I do know what the word means, but they seemed to mean it to mean to scold than to educate that plastic chairs were not the norm’.

    Can I not get you to see that what you have heard/drawn from the words was clearly not what was meant in the reply, i.e the was no pejorative content, and the inference that you were being scolded was entirely yours in that very specific instance. I am not for half a second suggesting that you should’nt have been miffed initially but your response has been way way over and above what I would have expected. I illustrate “I do beg your pardon but…I shall not make the mistake of thinking of myself welcome in future” and ” What was bad about the picture… the angle, the pixels, that I photographed what I saw. And what, please do be so kind as to tell me are the ‘intimations’ to which you refer.’

    I sought clarification, they chose not to give it. I sought also, some charity in the way they responded to this, they chose not to give that either. They criticised something I’d inadvertantly done, but did not wish to interact with me personally but to treat me as a stranger who had no regard for their community, which was untrue. I was deeply hurt.

    5) What comes across very clearly is your anger and indignation. If you have truely forgiven the sisters then this emotion should begin to fade. I personally have a really quick temper ( I am not infering you have, merely using myself as an illustration) sometimes I have to go away from a situation. or not respond until my anger has dissipated before talking to the person or people who I feel have offended me. I pray for this to happen, sometimes with a great deal of difficulty, and for God to help me see where I might have been at fault first before I can then honestly deal with what they have said. A wise Religious reminded me about the plank in my own eye before I deal with the speck in my Sisters, true humility should never allow one to presume that one is entirely without any fault. Even if ones anger/response can be seen justified, having gone through the process I have just described above, enables one to see with love the person who has offended you… this is the gospel about praying for ones enemies and loving the ones who hurt you. This is what it means in action, and what I meant by God using this as a means of spiritual growth. If you can’t get as far as that initially, then take your anger to God and ask Him to transform it into love first and ask His forgiveness for not being able to love your enemies as you know you should but just can’t because the anger is getting in the way. What concerns me I all this is that by not dealing with this matter in this way is that it is continuing to do you damage. That is the reason why I am as you put it ‘presuming to have to advise you’ to forgive. Keep praying, and when you are done praying, keep praying some more til you get to that resolution.

    Please remember to take your own advice and remove the plank from your own eye before you make assertions about the extent to which I have forgiven the sisters, perhaps you will then see that the anger you accuse me of is actually pain. I have spoken primarily from a place of hurt, rather than of anger.

    2) I think the sisters were wise not to respond to you for several reasons. Any response to whatever was said may well have increased you anger and hurt, given that you are possibly reading more meaning into what is being said to you. Also it is their blogsite, and they can remove any comment that may be negative or generate a large amount of correspondance that may or may not be helpfull to either party, or take a great deal of time to deal with, whether on the blogsite or via email. The Dominicans of Summit New Jersey do exactly that.

    I think it’s ridiculous that the sisters have chosen not to respond!

    They ignore genuine people who have worshipped and prayed with them, sat and talked with them, and instead responded to assuage the chair-sensitive (who i presume they have never actually met). Though my initial rsponse to the nuns was emotionally charged (not anger charged as you presume), I would have thought that these nuns I had interacted with, would have had the courtesy to have initiated a disussion with me privately about this. They could have removed Jenn’s question and responded to her privately too, they bought it into the public arena, not me.

    6) Permission to take a photograph does not give you the right or permission to publish the photograph. There are two different and separate permissions required. The first you sought and obtained. It is apparent that the second you did not. Whilst you asked your Parish Priest for permission to put it in the parish magazine, you didn’t gain that permission from the sisters nor did you add the explanation that needed to go with it.

    Actually I didn’t ask the priest if I could put it on the website,as an (unpaid) publicist for the parish we long ago agreed to chart the many activities, pilgrimages and places of interest, the parishioners visited. (the pictures were removed when we were in the process of changing our website to a newer one) If you want to be picky, then no i did not ask the sisters if I could put the images online,but then neither did the sisters ask how i would be using the images and I presumed no offence would be taken when highlighting the Abbey in a favourable light.

    7) Yes you did respond to the sisters criticism but you did it without love. I am neither justifying or condoning, praising or criticsising anything that the sisters said,did or didn’t do. Your anger does not affect the sisters… you cannot affect the way they think or behave, but as an adult YOU have control over the way you behave. We are all called to saints in whatever sphere of life we are called to live, be it wife, mother, single lay or religious. God gives us what we need to sustain us in each situation, we need not therefore be either envious or upset about what God gives to another… most of us don’t take full advantage of what we are given, and need to ask Gods forgiveness for not doing so, and the grace to be open to receive what He wants to send us… I entirely agree that parents are raising the next generation of priests and nuns but first and foremost children who will be trained and brought up in the christian faith, to know and love Jesus and be with Him in this world and the next. I am very glad that you take your responsibilities so seriously therefore.

    You are missing the point.

    It as entirely because I have love in my heart for the sisters and feel a certain sense of familiarity with them based on my retreat days at Colwich, that I felt so deeply moved to write a response to defend my origninal praise post about them. After reading their respons to ‘Jenn’, I perhaps should have waited to gather my thoughts more clearly and present them better, but though it might have sounded a less pained response, the content would remain the same.
    And it doesn;t change a thing about how they have dealt with this.

    8) Re separating from the Church you said “I have lots of faith in the church (small c) over the last few months but now feels like I am losing so much more, that all that I thought was good and true just isn’t as I thought it was at all. I am not doubting my catholic faith folks, don’t worry its just that things are difficult right now.” Also ” When l look at it it helps me remember the positive experience I had on retreat…and now that is sadly overshadowed and I suspect that I will never return there again…” Take a look at Lauras comment underneath (Reply 25). Dont give ol ‘nick any gap to get in. Continue to seek God, Himself, wherever and whenever you can and don’t let anything deflect you from it. I have seen anger and indignation drive people from the practice of their faith – I speak from personal experience here- just because of what one individual church member has said/done. Wandering in the wilderness is not an experience I would recommend.

    I don’t know how much you know about me, I don’t know if you’ve been reading my blog for a while or just since this Colwich stuff kicked off, but I am a convert to Catholicism, leading, through the grace of God, my immediate family members; my children and my parents, to the the Church, I work one day a week for the Church (paid) and do lots of voluntary work too, I am also a parish Catechist….losing faith in the small ‘c’ church was, as regular readers will know, in referrence to the hugely dispiriting last 6 months in my parish which for various reasons, but primarily for discretion purposes, I will not go into here. But I must stress that though I may lose faith in ithe individual members of the Church, never, never, never, will I lose faith in the Catholic Church.

    Maybe it has or hasn’t been dealt with well by the sister(s).

    I find it interesting that you can’t make a decision about whether this has or has not been handled badly by the sisters, but you know for a fact, that it has been badly handled by me! I find your response somewhat predictable.

    I am absolutely positive that it will be under review by their superiors and provision made to prevent a like circumstance occurring again. If it is felt that the blog is to be withdrawn, then I for one would venture that catholic cyberspace/culture would be very much the poorer if that is to be the case.

    It would be a shame for the blog to be deleted, I concur. But if it remains, the sisters should be fair and allow a peson who is being criticised to respond! Or better still, they should use their discretion to take certain comments to email!

    However both parties involved need to reflect as to whether this has been helpful or edifiying to either of them, and perhaps a dignified silence might have been a better response.

    I really think that if you don’ want to prolong this as you say that you do, that my comment might be best being the last and that you post a reply that this particular line of correspondence is now closed.

    Regards maryclare 🙂

    Well as you said above about the Colwich Sisters, it’s their blog, they can post and post comments as and when they will… this is my blog, I ask you to credit me the same rights as blog administrator.I will write what I want when I want, publish the comments I choose to, or not.

    And just so you know….the only one prolonging this at the moment is YOU. If you actually didn’t want to perpetuate this, why did you leave a comment on this thread?

    I find it ironic that the last comment on this post was made by myself on MAY 4TH…and a week later, on MAY 11TH, you want to have your say on it and keep the discussion going…only to tell me in a further comment that if I truly don’t want to prolong the discussion I will allow your comment to be the last.

    3 words for you.


  34. AutumnRose says:

    I hope that you have been able to reach that place of forgiveness and peace over this issue, Ukok…AR xxx

  35. ukok says:






    But then sometimes even when one has been treated unfairly they must accept that the person who allowed a ‘situation’ to occur or escalate, will not necessarily give ‘closure’ to it and therefore I must be accepting that those involved in this particular situation do not seek to be personable about it.

    Since this is the case, the ‘peace’ I feel , is more a resignation that comes from knowing that I have resolved not to cause further upset to myself (or to the sisters) by visiting Colwich again…and sadly, it has been expressed to me by some visitors to Colwich that they consider the sisters reaction to have been quite uncharitable and that while some of my friends may go again, others have chosen not to (and this is conclusion has been reached by them reading all the posts involved and not by listening to me talking about it!).

    At least fewer plastic chairs will have to be put out for the next retreat eh?


  36. AutumnRose says:

    Praying that God will grace you with “the peace that passes all understanding”!

    I tagged you today, btw 🙂
    God bless x

  37. ukok says:


    thank you so much for your kind words and also for the tag!


  38. maryclare says:

    Dear UKOK
    I only go on the internet intermittantly so I replied when I saw the blog comments.
    I am long winded and belong to the school of why use one word when ten will do (smile!)
    so aplogies.

    No apologies necessary maryclare, I am very much of the same school 🙂

    Pot, kettle and black well…. a little hard but ok, I take it on the chin! I was only quoting what you said yourself.

    It was intended to refer to the irony of your comment when you were in fact commenting that there shouldn’t be any more comments 😉

    As to my response being predictable, as you said to me I didn’t know you… you don’t know anything about me so I’m not sure how you were able to come to this conclusion.

    Well, maybe I overlooked your comment on the Sisters blog expressing that they may have been a little harsh and uncharitable? It just seemed kind of predictable to me, that’s all.

    Thanks for replying each time, even if you didn’t like or agree with what I said. I admire you wanting to engage. You have some nice friends too.
    Keep on blogging, and ‘retreating’.
    Take care and God bless.
    Regards maryclare 🙂

    And thank you maryclare, for your open and honest responses and for passing this way. I apologise if you feel i was being discourteous at all. Sometimes i don’t have much time to respond to comments and they come out a little abrupt perhaps. I know i could work on being a little less so 🙂

  39. Joan says:

    Dear UKOK,
    I just wanted to say that I have known the sisters at colwich for at least 15yrs, and in that time I have received and have seen nothing but kindness, understanding, support ,caring and much love and everytime on visiting have received a true benedictine welcome.

  40. ukok says:


    many thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. I can assure you that it is because I view the Sisters with such high regard myself, that I have been so deeply hurt by their reaction to my posts about Colwich.

    God Bless you

  41. Joan says:

    Dear ukok,
    I pray that your hurt is soon healed.

  42. ukok says:

    Many thanks for your kindness, Joan.

    God Bless you!

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