Remembering Mary Tyler Moore

January 26, 2017

 

Mary Tyler Moore has died. Many will remember her for her roles in television shows like the Dick Van Dyke Show and her ground breaking role in the show named after her.

 

As a person who tries to post about things that have a connection to my audience, I usually don't post about the death of most stars. As the many posts about Moore's impact on women poured in, it made me think about a movie I saw of her playing the role of a nun opposite Elvis Presley.

 

The movie was titled "Change of Habit" and it was somewhat groundbreaking for the church. The movie took place in 1969 and followed three nuns who left the safety of the convent to live within a poor community to make a difference. Like any good plot twist in a movie about a clergy member of course there was a challenge to her vows of celibacy. For me it was also the first time I'd ever seen a "black" nun.

 

The timing of the movie reflected changes in the church following Vatican II. In 1964 the most glaring change was of saying mass in English and the Vietnam War, which sparked deep dissension within the clergy. It also posed the question of if wearing a habit was effective or deterrent in connecting with the community. The movie ends with Sr. Michelle, the role Moore played as having to make a choice of remaining within the church as a nun or continue to do the Lord's work alongside Dr. Carpenter, the role Elvis played as a lay woman.

 

Her role in this movie also was groundbreaking for many Catholics, helping them see the humanness of the clergy, the power of a woman's role in doing God's work in the community and the struggle with celibacy.

Thank you Mary Tyler Moore for using your star quality to shine a light on a turbulent time in our church history, but also inspiring young women to see themselves in another powerful role.

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