The calling to be a Sister of Perpetual Indulgence allows one to know themselves better and find an outlet to express behavior and emotions that were shut down for fear of being different or criticized; for fear for our safety and our lives because of being different from … the norm.
There it is — the stigmatic guilt.
Freedom of Expression. Each person is an individual and each situation is unique. Each Sister of Perpetual Indulgence – each MINISTRANT – has a calling to work on behalf of others. By choosing the path of becoming a Sister or Brother or guard, we become comfortable with our self-expression in our chosen persona. Using the experience and hope of the Sisters around the world, we find our way as a Sister in service to the LGBT community. As in life, everyone doesn’t love everyone else, so too, all nuns do not love all other nuns, but it is the commonality of purpose and the acceptance of a broad range of opinions that allows us to do our sacred work with creativity and self-expression. Much like any family, there may be times where we disagree with each other, but this does not diminish our love and faith with our family and we do not and should not take these disagreements personally.
Diversity. We are family. Family means freedom to be an individual in a close-knit group of individuals. We are far from perfect and like many families, often have our misunderstandings.
Despite that, when we all work toward our common goals; miracles can, and do happen. We take our vows very seriously and feel a genuine calling to do this work so that the commitment never waivers. We do not discriminate or separate people by affiliation or organization. In fact, to do so would be hypocritical and contrary to our statement of purpose. Being a Sister is one of the most challenging and demanding things an individual can ever do. It requires skills that many never knew they had, as well as an investment in time and energy and, to some extend, money. It also takes drive, passion and a desire to perform community service. It requires the ability to handle many tasks with grace and humor, honesty and genuine character; good people skills and the ability to interact with others in a meaningful way.
But that isn’t all.
Being a Sister offers rich and enduring rewards that encourage us to do even more.
Social Activism. Inherently, we are inescapably agents of political change. Some members wish to identify only with the social service or spiritual aspects of the order, but there is no escape from the controversial and political qualities of being a Sister and taking actions affecting various social issues. The activist tradition of the Sisters was spawned in the early years by demanding funding for AIDS research and education as well as care of those struck down with, what was then, a terminal illness. This activist tradition was again demonstrated with the burning of the Pope in effigy during his 1987 visit to the US. While viewed as extreme and heretical in mainstream society, when the Pope denounced gays as immoral and a blight against God and Jesus, the Sisters took a stand against the absolute rejection and condemnation that is the official policy of the organized Catholic church. We believe that hate and discrimination must be confronted in all forms and wherever it appears. Institutionalized prejudice, however it manifests itself, belittles the human spirit and berates the human soul.
We do not judge; we celebrate any and all expressions of the human experience and believe that there is room for everyone to express themselves fully without harm to any other. In 1980 the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence authored “Play Safe” the first sex positive educational guide available, to continue living in the midst of an epidemic that took thousands of lives. The Sisters continue this activism in everything we do and by simply being. We are out, we are proud and we celebrate the gift of being gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans-sexual and trans-gendered.
Social Service. Ours is a ministry of presence. We do all that traditional nuns have done for centuries. We are 21st-century nuns, free from guilt associated with many traditional religions. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence have raised millions of dollars for our communities (near and far) and for social causes that continue to afflict not only the LGBT community, but the lives of young people and men and women in every walk of life.
With HIV and AIDS infections again on the increase, STD rates exploding, crystal meth use creating co-existing co-dependencies that defy treatment, and difficult to diagnose MRSA infections, the work of the Sisters continues to be as important today as it was when the first epidemic ravaged our community. We do not condemn. Our ministry is life affirming and sex positive. We visit the sick, educate and promote safer sex and, through service to the community, bring enlightenment and hope.
Spiritual Development. There is a great freedom within SPI for an individual to discover and express their spirituality. We educate and promote safer sex practices because part of self-love is respecting and taking care of yourself. Also, by our very appearance, we reintroduce to the community the spirit of other, and of the shamanic sacred fool.
Commitment Becoming a Fully Professed Member of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence is not an easy journey. It is not supposed to be. It requires fortitude, humility, tremendous desire and the ability to listen, observe and learn. As with all nuns, priests, clerics, shamans, Brahmins, and other holy individuals around the world, there is inherent self-sacrifice. Sisters may not always agree with each other on a particular direction that the House is pursuing, but we are expected to work for the good of the group and the community.
Many times since the founding of The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, our nuns and brothers and guards have made personal sacrifices so that SPI would reap the full benefits of their efforts. Each individual has performed mundane but necessary services to the Sisters, participated in functions that they would not normally care to attend, and given up some of their personal freedoms so that the group would flourish, or even participated with the group though they were in poor health or physical pain.
Courage. As Sisters, we draw from the remarkable dedication and the commitment to serve others as shown by those courageous Sisters before us. Without their willingness to show love and respect for those less fortunate than themselves, our vows of servitude would not be possible today. It was our Sisters before us, that held hands and brought comfort to so many lives affected by HIV and AIDS, that we owe our courage to continue the valiant fight for all of the many social and political challenges that we face in our daily lives.
As Sisters, we choose to join all Sisters worldwide to be out front and celebrate our unique gift of gayness and to keep the issues we face in front of those who sometimes forget that we are still a minority whose protected rights do not universally include the right to live and love in the same manner as the heterosexual majority.
We are nuns – 21st Century Nuns. We fill a void in providing compassion and support and safety; we fill a void in promoting spiritual internal faith and health in self and in others. We help those that may not be able to help themselves. We work with other organizations to keep our communities safe and sane.
We, the Sisters, Brothers and guards from every order, worldwide, love you just the way you are.