Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Paris nuns get out of Jail and pass GO

After 148 years the Nuns get out of Paris jail From the 2013 archives The nuns left their cells last month for the last time. Since the 19th century the Sisters of Marie-Joseph and Mercy have lived with female prisoners on Ile de la Cité in the 'Depot' so called for the cells under the the Tribunal which hold prisoners in transit between custody and possible incarceration. For 148 years this order of nuns have cared for female inmates and lived next to them in the holding cells. The five remaining nuns lived in the same spartan cells, caring for women who awaited charges before a magistrate. But with the crisis of vocations and an aging congregation, they couldn't find the necessary recruits.
On 23 April, they were treated to a final tribute, in the chapel of the 'Depot', where Cardinal Vingt-Trois, celebrated a mass for them saying "Where no one has voluntarily gone, we celebrate the service of those who have willingly gone out of love for others." Soon, the Sisters of the 'Depot' will retreat to a monastery. Yet they will continue to maintain a presence in the bowels of the courthouse, training citizen volunteers to take over and help. But the volunteers won't live in the cells. Cara - Tuesday


  1. Having been educated by nuns for seventeen years, I have direct experience of what determined sisters are capable of. Orders of nuns are shrinking worldwide, but MANY are still doing good work. I am glad to know that citizen volunteers are taking up the important work the sisters have been doing. Imagine the stories they have heard over all those years!

  2. Fascinating story, Cara. Not one I'd ever heard of before.

  3. Nor had I heard of them. I greatly admire their work. Forty-plus years ago I set up a volunteer operation in the New York City jails that brought Clergy into the cells to work directly with the inmates. No one spent more than a few hours a day ministering to the non-spiritual needs of the inmates, yet it introduced an outside observer element that necessarily humanized the interaction between the the keeper and the kept. I only hope the absence of such a powerful force as the nuns in the "Depot" won't end that undoubted contribution. Just think how "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" would have turned out had such a presence been there?