Wednesday, May 4, 2016


In an address made by Archbishop José Rodríguez Carballo in 2013, reprinted in L’Osservatore Romano, he cited statistics which showed that since 2008, roughly 3,000 religious have left their respective orders.  Among the reasons he mentioned were:
  • "Absence of spiritual life"
  • "Loss of a sense of community"
  • "Loss of sense of belonging to the Church"
  • "Affective problems" (which usually is a reference to relationships) 
I have two dear friends who left their orders as a priest and a nun decades ago and they have raised two of my bestest of friends, one of whom is the father of two wonderful children - including my second god-daughter.  So I guess they fell into that last category... although I don't see how it can be classified as a problem when so much that is wonderful sprang from their relationship.

Anyhoo, I bring that all up to make a televisiological point, as you probably expected from this Caretaker of Toobworld.....

I can only guess as to the reasons why, but I believe the Reverend Mother Superior of the San Tanco convent in San Juan, Puerto Rico, may have left her calling, even after so many years, by the end of the 1960s.  As to why, perhaps it stemmed from the effects on her religious views instigated by a young nun in her charge whose name was Sister Bertrille (born Elsie Ethrington).  Here was a woman who challenged physics itself because of her aerodynamic ability to fly, thanks to the wingspan of her cornet in ratio to her body weight.  And thanks to that ability, Sister Bertille was able to do so much good for the community.

Could it be considered a miracle?  Perhaps.  And so one would think that despite her misgivings about Sister Bertille's methods and attitude, the Reverend Mother might have been pleased to see her faith confirmed in such an unconventional manner.

So what could have happened that might have caused the Reverend Mother Superior to question her faith and even leave her religious order?

It had to be very traumatic......

I think that at some point after April of 1970*, Sister Bertrille must have died.  And considering the dangerous nature of her specialty as a "flying nun", I think she may have tragically perished when the wind suddenly died and she was dashed against the cliff rocks below.

I think that as she plummeted and smashed against the rocks, the impact caused her head to become separated from her body.  When the wind picked up again, the grisly body part, still in the cornet, was picked up by the wind and carried over San Juan, dripping blood over the populace below.

I'm sorry.  I have an overactive imagination.

At any rate, consider what a shock that would have been to a woman of stoic, unwavering faith up until that point in her life.  How could a God who had gone to the trouble of arranging such a miraculous confluence of events through Sister Bertrille in order to help the people of San Juan just take that all away and in such a cruel manner?  Didn't Sister Bertrille deserve better for being His servant?

So I think the Reverend Mother Superior lost her commitment to her religious orders, although perhaps not in her faith totally.

And afterwards?

Once she was back in the continental United States, I believe she reverted back to her baptismal name, the surname of which was Brady.  (It's a theory of relateeveety that she was the older sister of Mike Brady the architect and neice of Peter Brady, the Invisible Man.)  She moved back to the Los Angeles area and found herself a job as the office manager for the Haynes Military Academy.  It's pozz'ble, just pozz'ble, that she pursued that occupation because she wanted to help in the development of upstanding young men for the future of America.  (I would not be surprised if she was part of the conservative Republican movement in California under the aegis of Governor Ronald Reagan.)

Miss Brady not only took great pride in this new phase of her life, but she was somewhat enamored of Colonel Lyle C. Rumford.  So it must have been a renewed blow to her faith system when he turned out to be nothing like the hero whom she thought she was working for.

For the time being I do not know what Miss Brady's Christian name was as I have only seen Ms. Sherwood (or Ms. Thornton-Sherwood as she was known at this point in her career) in three productions - these two shows plus the movie version of "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof".  But there are some promising guest appearances in other TV shows in which only her first name is given.  (I don't think Miss Brady ever married after leaving the convent.  She may have still believed in herself as the Bride of Christ, but at the same time she might have been just too set in her ways.)

This "Game Of The Name" theory to conflate Miss Brady and the Reverend Mother Superior into one character is in memory of the actress Madeleine Sherwood, who played both roles.  Good night and may God bless....


* I chose April of 1970 because that was when the last episode of 'The Flying Nun' aired.  Unlike Barbara Eden as Jeannie, for example, or Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor as Oliver and Lisa Douglas, Sally Field never returned to the role of Sister Bertrille in Earth Prime-Time.  The closest she came was snogging the 2013 host of the Academy Awards, Seth MacFarlane, while he was dressed as the Flying Nun.

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