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Nuns Barricade Themselves To Protest Liberalization Of Order

October 6, 1988

MORRIS TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) _ Four nuns critical of recent modernizations such as television and videotaped movies in their monastery have barricaded themselves in a wing because they fear they will be ejected.

The Roman Catholic nuns sealed themselves Tuesday morning in the infirmary of the Monastery of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary of Mt. Carmel and remained there today.

The nuns, members of the Order of the Discalced Carmelites, said monastery officials told them four months ago they would have to move because of sharp differences in the way the cloister should be run. The order is a cloistered group devoted to daily prayer and contemplation in solitude.

However, Paterson Bishop Frank John Rodimer said today the women would not be ejected.

″The sisters are not being evicted. The diocese will continue to help these four sisters do what they agreed to do, to find a monastery where they can live prayerfully and contemplatively,″ he said.

The nuns, ages 28 to 45, moved food and their belongings into the infirmary, tied the door shut, and have vowed to stay there until they receive word from the Vatican. Rodimer said the diocese has received Vatican approval for its actions.

Calls to the Vatican Embassy in Washington for comment were not immediately returned.

″We entered the monastery for a particular life style, and what these other, liberal nuns did is change these rules,″ Sister John, one of the nuns, told The Record of Hackensack.

None of the nuns could be reached for comment today; a reporter left a note at the convent gate to be carried up to them.

The nuns told the newspaper that Mother Teresa, the monastery’s prioress, began to modernize life at the monastery after her arrival last year. They said she introduced television, videotaped movies, music and socializing. This created a backlash among the more orthodox members of the order, they said.

″It’s unnecessary noise, constant interruptions, too much hustle and bustle,″ Sister John said. ″This is an all-around change, a change in the spirit of the monastery.″

Mother Teresa Hewitt refused to comment today.

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