Friday, May 26, 2017

The Clock Strikes Nun by Alice Loweecey

Please welcome Alice Loweecey to Fearless Friday with an intriguing post!

Apparently, I’m an overachiever, because I’ve accomplished two life-changing events. Yay, me? 

Back in the day, Catholic schools were staffed almost entirely by nuns. The old way (sort of): Nuns in modified habits looking like cosplaying penguins. (I really like penguins, too.)

The nuns were so mysterious and set apart. Could you imagine being one of those special women? What a carrot to dangle in front of teenage girls’ noses. 

I snatched the carrot and learned first-hand how a cult operates.

Cut you off from family and friends? Check.

Change the way you dress? Check.

Change the way you walk and talk? Check. (Really.)

Censor your reading material? Check. (Although the reeducation sort of makes you censor it yourself.)

Open your mail and listen in on your phone calls? Check.

Read your private journal? Check. 

I took it for years because I was “chosen,” “special,” “set apart.” Brainwashing gets its hooks into you and you have to work for a long time to dislodge them. I blame no one but myself for the brainwashing. I could’ve walked away anytime pre-convent. But, yanno, “chosen,” “special,” “set apart.” 

Four years in, I made the decision to jump the wall. There was a wall, but I walked out the door. Less drama, easier on the ankles. By the way, if you ever hear the phrase “jump the wall,” it means only one thing: Leaving the convent. 

So much for life-changer #1. 

You may think entering the convent is difficult. You’re right. Leaving behind everyone and everything, changing practically everything about yourself, living with 95 women who all cycle at the same time. But let me assure you, it’s a tropical vacation compared to walking away from it all. 

I spent my last two weeks as a nun in my room. I came out of it only for meals and Mass. 

30+ years ago, there was something of an exodus of younger nuns. The older nuns watched and thought, “Who’s going to push my wheelchair when I get old?”

Fifteen years passed before I got past the anger of those last few months in the convent. Now I look back and realize the nuns were scared and took out their fear on me. 

Less than fun. 

I came home to my parents’ house with a single change of clothes to my name. Not like I was going to sneak a habit in my bag. If YouTube had been around then, the clip of me trying on high heels for the first time in four years would’ve gone viral in a day. 

The weirdest part? Interacting with people as an equal instead of a combination RCC ad/Dear Abby/authority figure.

Just like when I joined the Cult of the Convent and changed everything about myself, I had to relearn who I was as a “regular” person. 

Life changer #2 achieved. 

But when life hands you horrible experiences—use them for fiction! That’s my philosophy. Also, I have party conversation for the rest of my life. And nun jokes. A lot of nun jokes. If you ever see me at a writers’ conference, I’ll tell you a few.

Doomsday Preppers and Online Dating and Cults, oh my! Nun but the Brave, Giulia Driscoll's new mystery, is in stores now from Henery Press.

The Redeemers are here! Haunt your nightmares now, from Dark Recesses Press.

Baker of brownies and tormenter of characters, Alice Loweecey recently celebrated her thirtieth year outside the convent. She grew up watching Hammer horror films and Scooby-Doo mysteries, which explains a whole lot. When she's not creating trouble for her sleuth Giulia Driscoll or inspiring nightmares as her alter-ego Kate Morgan, she can be found growing her own vegetables (in summer) and cooking with them (the rest of the year).


  1. As a lifelong protestant, I've always been fascinated by certain things about the Catholic church--nuns being at the top of the list. Your experience makes me sad because part of me still wants to think being a nun is like it was in Bells of St. Mary. :-(

    1. Liz, I felt the same way. You never know until you live it.

  2. Thanks for replying. It's entirely possible some convents--the few that are left--still mimic movies like The Bells of St. Mary's. That wasn't my experience, alas. But at least I'm getting some good fiction out of it. :)

  3. What an experience to have gone through so young! But I love the books that came out of it!