My life there and afterwards

Archive for August, 2013

8 Months

This is a current example of how the Community of Jesus treats those who have left.

I had lived a pretty organized life while I was there, so when it came time to leave, it was not hard to pack my personal possessions into my storage space in the attic. My son was able to go pick them up later, and he stored them at his house until I had found a place to live. One thing I had not packed and had left behind was a cross-stitched picture of 3 Christmas Angels. It was a kit I had bought before I became a sister at the Convent, and I took it with me when I did become a sister. It took me years to finish it, between lack of interest and lack of time, but on occasion I would bring it out and work on it, and eventually finished it. It is a beautiful piece, I was happy with it and we used it every Christmas to help decorate the Extern Sisters’ House where I lived. It was stored with the other Christmas decorations at the the Extern House, which is why I did not remember it when I was packing up my things to leave.

Last Christmas, 2012, was the first time that I felt like decorating for the season. I am finally in my own apartment, and I am also gaining some peace and healing about Christian holidays. At that time I remembered this cross-stitch piece. I  wrote the Community a letter asking if I could have it shipped to me, or I could pick it up. I received it last week, about 8 months after requesting it. Between my first letter and now the Community’s lawyer and I have exchanged many letters, and he tried to get me to sign a legal waiver saying I would never ever request anything again or say anything against them. I call that a “gag order”. All this fuss was made over a store-bought kit of a homemade piece of memorabilia that has value only to me and is rightfully mine. I have printed the whole series of letters, below, and it is a long read, but I think you will find it enlightening to see how they try to manipulate, and I also think it shows the amount of paranoia they are operating under.

Letters between me and Chris Kanaga, Attorney at Law for the Community of Jesus

#1, letter I wrote to Lillian because I did not know who to write to, and she is in charge of the Financial Bursar’s Office, so is in a position of authority

Dec 23, 2012

Dear Lillian,

I have a request to make. There are three things that I have made, and therefore are mine, that I did not take with me when I left. I would now like to have them, and my son Dan would be able to pick them up for me.

One is a cross-stitch, framed picture of Christmas Angels that was stored with the Christmas decorations at the Extern House. I realize it is probably called something differently now, but I am sure you know the house I am talking about, where the Extern sisters lived, attached to the Convent.

The second is the quilt set that I made and that is being used in the Retreat dormitory. It is the one showing the beach scenes. It includes the quilt, pillow, rocking chair cushion and desk chair cushion. I do not want the foot stool cover or the white-stitched quilt.

The third is the quilted picture of the house in the woods. I believe it was hanging in the Retreat dormitory, the last I knew.

If these could all be put aside for Dan to pick up, and could you please let me know when he can come over to get them, I would appreciate it.

Thank you and I hope your Holidays are blessed.

Sincerely,

Carrie Buddington

#2, letter from Laraja and Kanaga, Attorneys at Law, written Jan. 21, 2013 and mailed Jan. 23, 2013 on their letterhead

 Dear Ms. Buddington:

Re: Your Request of December 23, 2012

Lillian Miao referred your letter to me for response, since it regards a proposed distribution of church property. I understand that you are asking for certain items of personal property to be sent to you by The Community of Jesus, Inc. (the “Community”), because you had a hand in fabrication of the items. I understand that the materials which were used in the fabrication (as well as the tools, equipment and premises used), were owned by the Community.

I further understand that you participated in the fabrication while you were a vowed monastic sister of the Community. Like all similar Christian monastic organizations of which we are aware, sister (and brothers) upon voluntarily taking vows, voluntarily part with their goods and their right to “own”. This is a free choice made by the individual, and is a well-known characteristic of religious community life. Having taken their vows, the sisters (and brothers) are provided food, housing, medical attention, education and necessities of life by the Community. These are benefits which you undoubtedly shared. The Community does not require departing religious sisters (or brothers) to reimburse the costs of this support and maintenance, and likewise a departing sister does not have a claim to any property of the Community.

All of these principles are set forth in the Rule of Life of the Community to which you agreed, the vows of membership which you signed, the Constitution of the Sisterhood of the Community in which you participated, and the agreement which you signed upon your departure.

The Community is a church and has certain legal obligations with respect to disbursement of funds or assets. As a charity, neither funds nor property can be disbursed except in accordance with the religious purposes of the organization, its Articles, By-laws and direction of the Board of Directors. The distribution you propose would run directly counter to law, and to the religious beliefs, purposes and principles of the Community, and is simply not possible.

I hope that this letter finds you well, and wish you the best in 2013.

Sincerely,

Christopher W. Kanaga

#3, letter

1/26/13

Hi Chris,

How are you Dick doing? Nice to hear from you, although I wish it had been a friendly note instead of this legal stand-offish nonsense.

However, I do understand where you are coming from about the quilt set and quilted hanging that are in the Guest house. I’ll set that aside for now.

I do not see any reason why I would be denied possession of the Christmas Angel cross-stitch picture. I bought that kit with my own money way before I became a sister at the Community of Jesus. I brought it with me into the sisterhood as part of my personal possessions, which we all were allowed to have, and did all the work on it in my “free time”. It was acknowledged all along as being part of my personal stuff. It has no value to the Community or to its “mission”. In the extreme stress that I was under when I left, I simply forgot about it, since it was not with my own personal stuff, and was stored with the Christmas decorations at the Extern house. If they want to quibble about the frame that it is in being part of the donated items that the Community gets, I would be happy to just have the cross-stitch back and not the frame.

I would appreciate a timely response about when my son Dan would be able to pick it up for me.

Thanks, and have a blessed day,

Carrie Buddington

#4, letter

May 13, 2013

Dear Mr. Kanaga and Mr. Laraja,

I am writing with 2 items to discuss.

First, I would like to follow up from my last correspondence with you. I am disappointed that you have not replied to my last letter, dated January 26, 2013, in which I asked when I could expect to pick up my personal item. It seems rather unprofessional, to me, that you have chosen to greet my request with silence.

To reiterate our communication so far, in case my letters have gotten lost, I had requested to retrieve the quilt set and the quilt wall hanging which I had made (completely on my own), and the cross-stitch Christmas Angel picture. You had responded that these were considered Church property, and that you could not see your way to returning to me the fruit of my labor. Also I would like to point out that they were made with material that was donated to the Community of Jesus, not purchased by the Community of Jesus. I then responded that I could understand why you would think that way about the quilt set and wall hanging, as they were being used in the Retreat dormitory, but that the cross-stitch Christmas Angel picture had been purchased with my own money before I became a sister, and had been worked on in my own free time. In addition, I pointed out that all the sisters were allowed to have personal items such as this, and I did not see any reason why I could not have this particular personal item back. I have yet to hear back from you about this matter.

I would appreciate a response to my request to procure my Christmas Angel piece. I can arrange to have it picked up at a time convenient to us both.

Second, having worked in the Scribe’s Office, I know that personal files are kept on all Community members, even after they have left. I know that there is a file on me in that office. I believe it is my legal right to have a copy of these files. I request that you send me a copy of everything that is in my file.

I await your timely reply.

Sincerely,

Carrie Buddington

#5, letter

May 17, 2013

Dear Carrie:

Re: Your Correspondence of May 13, 2013

I am enclosing a copy of my January 31st letter responding to your initial requests. I have located what I believe to be the cross-stitch angel you requested. I have also located a second cross-stitch picture (with three angels).

As I mentioned in my correspondence, I would appreciate some assurance from you that this is the final item, as I think we would all appreciate some closure, and not deal with things on an on going basis. In that regard, will you be willing to sign a mutual waiver that the delivery settles all claims?

We can arrange a time for pick up, after you get back to me.

Thank you for your consideration.

Very truly your,

Christopher W. Kanaga

Enclosed copy of Jan. 31 letter

January 31, 2013

Dear Carrie:

Re: Your Request of December 23, 2012

Thank you for your letter of the 26th. I will look into the cross-stitch Christmas angel to which you refer, and see what I can find out. It would be helpful if I could be sure that this is the only remaining issue, so that we can deal with everything at once. I think it would be best for all concerned that way.

Thank you, and hope you are well.

Sincerely,

Christopher W. Kanaga

#6, letter

Dear Chris,

Re: Your Correspondence of May 17, 2013

I am glad to receive the copy of your letter dated 1/31/2013, as I never received the original.

The cross-stitch with the 3 angels is the one that is mine. I spent many hours working on it, and know it well. The faces are done in petit point. Would you please m ail it to me, and if necessary, I will pay for the postage.

Sincerely,

Carrie Buddington

#7, letter

June 20, 2013

Dear Chris Kanaga,

I am writing again simply because I have not had a reply to my last letter to you, and want to make sure a letter did not get lost in the mail like last time.

Can you please mail my cross-stitch angels to me, or do I need to come pick it up?

Sincerely,

Carrie Buddington

#8, letter received June 21, 2013

June 17, 2013

Dear Carrie,

I will pack up the Angel picture and mail it to you. There is no need for you to send me postage. Can you please let me know if there is anything else that you have left here, and if not, can you please sign and return the attached waiver? Meanwhile, I will have the Community sign a mutual waiver for your benefit. Thank you.

Regards,

Christopher W Kanaga

Enclosed Waiver

Release and Waiver

I, Carrie Buddington, in exchange for the good and valuable consideration, including but not limited to the delivery of a handmade cross-stitched angel and contingent upon receipt of a mutual Release and Waiver received from The Community of Jesus, Inc., do release and forever discharge The Community of Jesus, Inc., its affiliates, its and their present and former members, officers, agents, and employees, and all people associated with them in (collectively referred to as the “Community”), from any and all charges, claims, complaints, liabilities, obligation, promises, agreements, controversies, damages, actions, suits, rights demands, costs, losses, damages and expenses (including attorneys’’ fees and costs actually incurred unless otherwise provided for herein) of any nature whatsoever, whether they are known to me or unknown, suspected or unsuspected, which I now have, own or hold, or have ever held or claimed to have, own or hold against the Community, arising out of any circumstance, action, omission, matter or state of fact up to the date of this Release and Waiver that I may now have as to any relief of any kind from the Community. This means that I may not sue the Community for any claim arising our of, or connected to, in any way, any fact or allegation or circumstance occurring from the beginning of time and up to the date of this Release and Waiver, based on any matter occurring from the beginning of time and up to the date of this Release and Waiver.

#9, letter

June 24, 2013

Dear Mr. Kanaga,

Please disregard the last letter I sent to you on Thursday, June 20, 2013. it crossed in the mail with your letter of June 17, 2013.

Thank you for sending my cross-stitch. I will look for it to arrive.

No, I will not sign the waiver.

When can I expect a copy of my personal files?

Sincerely,

Carrie Buddington

#10, letter

July 15, 2013

Dear Mr. Kanaga,

In your letter dated June 17, 2013 you stated “I will pack up the Angel picture and mail it to you. There is no need for you to send me postage.”

I have not received said Angel cross-stitch yet. Is there a reason for the delay?

Sincerely,

Carrie Buddington

#11, letter

July 22, 2013

Dear Carrie,

Thank you for you note, but you are quoting only a portion of my letter. In my correspondence I have been asking if there is anything else that you claim to own. I have asked for some assurance that this is the only request, so that we can settle everything at once. When nothing came from you, I drafted and sent a mutual waiver for your signature.

So, the reason for the delay is that you have not responded to any of the above. I am happy to finalize this as soon as you are ready. Perhaps if you could call me, we could resolve it over the phone.

Sincerely,

Christopher W. Kanaga

#12, letter

August 5, 2013

Dear Chris,

Wow. I find it truly incredible that you are asking me to exchange all future claims for one little home-made cross-stitch. To me this is indicative of a demanding, controlling and paranoid personality. It seems that you are so narrow in your view of life, and so “under authority” that you cannot see beyond the perceived threat you think I present. I have presented no threat to you.

You state in your letter of Jan. 21, 2013 that I had a “hand in the fabrication of the items.” I did not “have a hand in the fabrication”. The quilt set and the quilt hanging were 100% my labor. The materials used were donated to the Community of Jesus (Community) and did not cost them one cent. The tools and the space were part of the Convent, where I was living and giving all of my life for the support of the Community. The support I received through housing, clothing and food were minimal. We lived, dressed and ate sparingly in order to be as little a financial burden on the Community as possible. I assume that in having a sisterhood, the Community gladly took on the support of the sisters in exchange for all the free labor we provided, which was financially worth far more than the minimal support we received. The medical insurance must have been large for 60+ women, until we went on MassHealth, which does not cost anything. I received medical attention rarely, because we were told often that it was expensive, so I did not seek help unless it was absolutely necessary. I received no education at the expense of the Community, even though I asked to. As I stated in my letter of 1/26/13 I can understand the frame of mind that you are viewing this from, since I lived there for so long and used to have the same frame of mind, but that does not make it accurate or correct.

In my letter of 5/13/13 I requested a copy of my personal records which are kept in the Scribe’s Office. You have chosen to not reply to that request at all. I believe it is my legal right to have a copy of those files.

In your letter of 5/17/13 you asked for reassurance from me that the cross-stitch was the final item I want from the Community. I had already asked for my personal files in addition to the cross-stitch, so no, I will not sign that waiver. I was so shocked by the request, and felt it was so unreasonable, that you are correct, I did not respond to that request right away. I simply reiterated my request for my cross-stitch. It was not until my note of 6/24/13 that I responded and said I would not sign the waiver. I had no idea at that point that you were trying to use a simple cross-stitch that is my personal property and has personal value only to me as a bargaining chip for such a huge request as the waiver represents. I also asked again about my personal files, which you have continued to ignore.

A month went by, so I sent another note asking where my cross-stitch was. Your response of 7/22/13 was the first time I fully realized that you were saying I had to sign the waiver before you would return to me an item that is legally and rightfully mine. How far are you going to take this charade?

I will not call you, as I fear you will not truly listen to what I have to say, as these letters seem to indicate. I prefer to keep our correspondence to letters.

The waiver as I read it says I can never bring any future complaint against the Community. I have no idea what the future will bring, and if it ever comes to my attention that I could get redress for the harm done to me at the Community, I certainly will not sign away that possibility for a simple cross-stitch. And the idea that you think you could trade away my rights for a simple piece of homemade memorabilia is astounding to me.

I have tried in good faith to have a simple dialogue with you about one small piece of personal property, that you have agreed belongs to me. You in return have tried to pressure me into signing a legal waiver that goes far beyond trying to retrieve my personal property, one small item, and I will not do it. I believe that no sane person would.

If you are worried about my bringing a lawsuit against the Community, your withholding behavior is self defeating because it is more likely to provoke what you fear rather than protecting the Community.

Sincerely,

Carrie Buddington

#13, Email sent on Aug. 13, 2013

Mr. Chris Kanaga,

To reiterate, I will not sign the waiver that you asked me to sign.

I have every right to speak about my experiences to whomever I chose, including the media.

I have a legal right to a copy of my personal files, and I expect you to send them to me without further delay.

Sincerely,

Carrie Buddington

#14, letter

August 21, 2013

Dear Carrie,

Thank you for responding. I was merely trying to find out what else you might be claiming, so that we could deal with it all at once, rather than piecemeal over an indefinite time into the future.

I think I understand now that you have no interest in that and would like to keep the doors open indefinitely. I am not sure how that leads to closure, but I’ll see what I can do. I have mailed the angel I located, and hope it is what you were requesting.

As to “personal files”, I was unable to locate any, other than your sisterhood vows and property waivers, which I understand you already have. Pursuant to those documents, you vowed as a sister to live a life of poverty in devotion to God, and therefore, nothing at the convent is “rightfully yours”, but as I said, I’ll see what I can do.

Sincerely,

Christopher W. Kanaga

#15, I received a package which contained 2 angel pictures, the one of 3 angels which I had stated was mine, and also one of a single angel, which is not mine.

 #16, letter

August 28, 2013

Mr. Chris Kanaga,

In my letter dated May 28, 2013, I stated that “The cross-stitch with the 3 angels is the one that is mine.” Therefore, the cross-stitch with the single angel is not mine, and I am returning it to you.

Re: my personal files. I have seen with my own eyes that there is more in my files than the papers I signed at my leaving. Back in the 70’s Cay and Judy had all of the Community members write a “testimony” of how the Community had blessed us and made our lives better. I know that is in my files, and there were other papers as well. I also know that the Community keeps an Access database with important dates, such as when I became a member and the dates of the religious vows I took. I know this is true because I worked on those files, updating and consolidating them when I worked in the Scribe’s Office. I wish a copy of all of that.

Carrie Buddington

#17, letter received after the package with the cross-stitch angels and after my reply of Aug. 28.

August 26, 2013

Dear Carrie:

I have found a second cross stitched angel picture, and am mailing both of them to you. However, I am doing this simply as a courtesy, without agreeing to your claims of ownership or waiving statutes of limitation or any other defences.

Sincerely,

Christopher W. Kanaga

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Lies and Truth, part 1

Someone once commented to me “(I’m) not sure how (the leader) can constantly lie in God’s name and people at the CJ don’t see it….or choose to ignore it.” This is a very big topic, and what is a lie and what is truth is not universally defined. Any group can create their own version of reality.

Chronicle did a video series on the Community of Jesus back in 1993. Once the series was aired, we were told by the leaders, in one of our community meetings, to not bother watching them. We were told that they were full of lies, and the media had slanted it against us, against the truth, and that we were being persecuted by the devil. We were told that it would only upset us to watch them, so to not bother. Many of us obeyed. I did not see them until after I had left the Community of Jesus. I have found out that some people did sneak a look at them, and knew lies were being told by us, but I did not. The thing I did know at the time was that the big picnic we staged was such a farce. None of us wanted to do it, and we were told point blank that we were to all be happy, and that if anyone was in a foul mood and could not put forth a happy face for the cameras that they would not be allowed to come to it. I was a novice for the sisterhood at the time, and I remember sitting with my back to the cameras as much as I could because I was sure that my face would betray how I was really feeling. It was so stupid to be out there pretending that we were such loving happy Christians when our daily lives were not happy and we were only focused on perfection and getting the world to think we were great. We were not bringing Christ and His message to the poor and needy of the world. However, the pressure of conforming, and the fear of being cast out were extremely strong forces that ruled a lot of what I did, and kept me from thinking critically about my situation. I had been trained in submission since 1970. I will talk more on this in coming posts.

I was truly shocked when I finally saw the interviews, and saw what the leader said to the reporter in front of the camera.  Before that interview, we had been told that since those who had left were making a big deal about the “light sessions” that we would not be using that phrase anymore. “Light sessions” were officially declared over, and that term was to never be used again. Of course, we were told, our life would not change, and we would still speak “truth” to each other just as we always had, but we would not be using that term anymore. Therefore, when the leader had the interview, she could legally say that light sessions weren’t going on anymore. But I for one knew full well that the same practice was going on, just without the title. At the Community of Jesus, speaking truth to one another is a vaulted virtue. Anywhere in this world we know we need truth. Our best friends will be honest with us, but in my experience at the Community of Jesus it is taken to an extreme in which it is no longer a virtue. Truth is a wonderful thing; most of us seek for it. However, truth that makes you feel humiliated, unloved, and rejected is wounding, not loving. And many times a very small truth was elaborated and twisted until it was no longer the truth. This has happened to me many times.

The leader says in the Chronicle documentary that there are many ways to perceive anything. This is true. For instance, concerning the grape fasts that we used to go on, my perception is that the Founders told us that the whole community was going to go on a 30 day grape fast. If anyone broke the fast they would have to start all over again. There were to be no exceptions. I was not given a choice, and if I had said no, it would have been rebellion, sin, and I would have been punished for it. If the leader or anyone else had perceived those instructions in a different light, I wish they had clued me in. One time I was so famished that I ran home early from church, sat on the floor before the refrigerator and stuffed my mouth with lettuce dipped in ranch dressing. That was heavenly. I never told anyone I had done that, or I would have had to start the fast all over again.

This is getting too long, and I am rambling, and don’t think I have adequately addressed the issue of lying and believing the lies. If you believe that you are serving God, and in the beginning are excited about building a life centered on God’s love, it can and does happen that slow steps to extremism can go unnoticed.

To be continued…

Leaving

This is my story, of how I became involved in a modern day Christian cult, my journey in, through, and out of it, and how I have fared since leaving. I gave 40 years of my life to a work that I believed in. I started out idealistic, and willing to work hard, persevere, and give my all for a cause greater than myself. It is the story of the painful journey to realization that it was not what I wanted to believe it was, how I came to leave, and the wonderful amazing story of ongoing recovery. No matter the shocks that life can have for us, there is always hope, friends, love and the many possibilities of recovery, healing, and growth. This therefore is my story about living at The Community of Jesus  in Orleans, MA.

ENDINGS

I am living in the Convent as a sister, and I have gone through two years of agony. I am feeling more and more that decisions and attitudes about many things, family, music, band, daily inter-relationships, are wrong here. There is some fundamental element of care and love that is missing. During this time I feel I am in conflict with my vow of stability since I am thinking that I would be leaving God if I left here, and yet I can’t help but think that I need to get away for a while. I have had several times of explosive emotions where I felt I just could not live a life anymore where every conversation was designed to find fault in me.

Things were so bad the last year, I dreaded getting up and going through another day. No one showed any care except the sisterhood nurse. She asked me if I was depressed and when I said yes she gave me Melatonin to take. But I was offered no counseling, no one to talk with about my struggle, which was that I was more and more coming to see that our life wasn’t normal. I was beginning to disagree with the way we lived. It was focused on all work, production and image. There was no time for rest. There were lots of religious services, but no real application of the gospel. We went to a lot of services, but where were we helping anyone outside of our own place? The negation of everything individual made me feel like a non-person. My only value was in what I could give through work. I was losing my drive to be the hardest worker there, and could find no other value to our life.

Taking MegaBright fish oil and Vitamin B calmed my emotions, but actually clarified for me that the basic issues were still there. Once the emotions were calm, but I still had all the same questionings, it was clear that I wasn’t just losing my emotional stability, I really did have some questions that needed answering about the way we lived our life there. I had written two notes to the Mother Superior asking for a 6 month/1 year leave of absence, to sort things out for myself. They were both denied and I was told by her, face to face in front of a group of the older sisters, that she would never grant me a Leave of Absence. I was shocked speechless. It is written right in the Rule of Life that we can ask for a Leave of Absence for personal retreat and spiritual growth.

Every single day I was so depressed that I saw no purpose in doing anything. I lost my love for all the things I loved doing, such as gardening, knitting and weaving. Even the fun things were no longer joyful. It was daily agony. No matter how often I tried to talk about it, no one had any answers, suggestions, or help for me. They listened – and that was it.

After my daughter’s wedding, where I was so happy, I came back and as soon as I walked on the property I was plunged into depression again. That’s when I realized I could not continue. I was dying inside and had to take action before I died so much I would be incapable of taking action. At 63 it was now or never. I wrestled with this for a couple of weeks, and then wrote another note asking again for a three month Leave of Absence, a time for reflection and study, retreat, whatever. I said that if it was denied again, that I was afraid I was working up to being desperate enough to go AWOL. I handed this note in on Tuesday, 7/6/10.

7/8/10  Thursday: I am called to a meeting at 6:15 pm with two of the Deans, people in charge right under the leader of the Community. They tell me they have read my note and that the leader has told them about my being upset and they ask me how I feel. I explain my feelings of depression and desperation about any hope of resolution after two years of agonizing and talking, and that I feel I need to step aside for three months to work this out and get some perspective. I tell them about my two previous requests for 6-12 months Leave of Absence being denied. They do not ask me what they or I can do to resolve this. They do not offer alternatives. Their response is the standard one that I have heard so many times before – “In cases like this, it’s better if it happens quickly. Go up to Boston tomorrow and find a place to live.”

One of them says she will give me a ride to the bus in the morning. She asks me how much money I will need. I say I do not know, having not dealt with the world for 40 years. Having done a little research on Google, I thought maybe $800 would cover one month’s rent. (At that time I did not know about needing to pay first, last & security). She offers – says – that they (the Community of Jesus) will give me $1,000.

I am told to do this quickly, by the 11:40 bus tomorrow, and that she will have papers of exclaustration for me to sign. These are papers saying that I am requesting to be released from my monastic vows. I state emphatically that I do not want to sign any papers. I want this to be temporary.

My understanding as I left the meeting is that I am going for the day to find an apartment, and then will come back to arrange to move my stuff.

That same evening I call the Dean and ask who will pick me up on my return and how late should I think of returning. She acts surprised that I am asking this. She explains that I am expected to take only what I need for a short while, in one suitcase, and that I should find a room and stay in Boston. Once I have a job and a permanent apartment, my things can be brought up to me. I am shocked. I blurt out “I can’t do that!” She repeats that is what I am expected to do. I begin to panic, and try to think of how maybe I can do this; if I could find a Realtor or two to inquire at once I get there. I feel trapped and desperate to get out, so I foolishly say I will try to do this.

7/9/10  Friday: In the car before we leave, the Dean produces the papers. They say that I have requested dispensation from my vows. I refuse to sign it, as that is not the truth. I have requested a Leave of Absence, or sabbatical, or 3-month retreat, not dispensation. My goal at this point is still to try to resolve my conflict, and to return. She then says she will not give me a ride to the bus until I sign them, nor the bus fare, or any other money. I am stuck in this horrible in-between position until I do exactly as they are telling me to do, against my wishes, against the truth. At this point I still refuse. She calls the leader to report “we have a problem.” After she hangs up, I offer a compromise. I say that if the paper could be re-worded to say that I had requested a Leave of Absence, but having been denied that, I would accept as the second choice, the alternative, signing the dispensation, then I would sign it. But I would not sign that I had requested it. She said she would check. I then get out of the car, take my suitcase and violin out, and go back into the Convent. I go up to a guest room  where I can be alone. I am aghast that I can not leave without signing the dispensation papers, and I am pacing in panic. I cannot think clearly, I feel trapped. I think about calling my oldest daughter, but do not want to drag her into this drama. I am not thinking clearly, and cannot think of any other options. I am afraid and literally out of my mind with the stress of all this.

Shortly after noon I call the Dean to ask if the re-wording was acceptable. She hasn’t gotten through to ask. I am suspicious that they are stalling until I capitulate, as I have seen this tactic used on others. I call again later. I finally do capitulate after asking her if she will give her word that my note requesting a Leave of Absence, a three month retreat, and stating that the Leave of Absence had been denied me, would be filed permanently with the signed dispensation form. She gives her word that it will be, therefore I agree to sign. I am desperate to get out of there, and time is running out to find a place to stay once I hit Boston. I sign that, and a legal document saying that the Community of Jesus is no longer responsible for me. I sign under duress, not really wanting to, but feeling it was the only way to get out of there. Otherwise I would have had to walk out with nowhere to go.

I ask and receive verbal confirmation from the Dean that the Community of Jesus would continue to pay for my Mass Health Insurance for one year. (I did not know at that time that there were no payments made to Mass Health, it is a free service). She tells me I need to call the head of the financial office at the end of July with my new address.

As I am getting to the car the second time, one of the older sisters comes up and blocks my path, telling me that I cannot take the violin with me. They will not let me borrow the violin that I have been playing for several years now. She actually stands in my path until I hand it over. I say how hateful and unnecessary this is. They know I will return it just as soon as I have saved enough to buy my own. I say that the leader is mad at me. This sister denies it, but I repeat that it is so, or she would not be doing such a hurtful thing. Since I know it does not belong to me, it belongs to the Community, I do hand it over, taking it out of the case and giving it to the sister, saying “get it out of my sight quickly before I change my mind and take it back.”. But it was so unnecessary, and hurtful, and spiteful. The case and bow do belong to me so I keep those. I think that surprises them, but nobody says anything.

Because of the late start, I arrive in Boston at 3:45 pm. I go first to Bank of America to open a checking account with the $500 check. We had stopped and cashed the other $500 before leaving Orleans.

The Bank process takes until 4:50 pm, so my calls to the rental agencies are too late. They are closed. I sit on a flower bed edge and call my daughter in tears and panic. She calms me down, tells me to find a hotel room and that they are coming to Boston tomorrow anyway, and we will work something out. YMCA has no rooms, but refers me to Chandler Inn where I get a room for $100+. I talk with my daughter on Saturday. I also call and talk with my other daughter. I decide to go down to CT and stay with her mother-in-law for a week or two while I try to find a job and a place to live.

To be continued…