Young Nuns


Young Nuns

Documentary following the stories of two women in their early twenties as they prepare to become nuns, offering a unique insight into a rarely seen world.


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Transcript


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'It's Clara's graduation.

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'While most of her classmates have no idea what the future holds,

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'she's made an extraordinary decision.'

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What I'm doing is quite different. Very different.

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My reaction first of all was, "Wow!"

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I was really shocked when I heard.

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I didn't realise it was done, really.

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'Clara's joining a small but growing number of young women

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'who choose to give up careers, boyfriends and everything they own

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'to become a nun.'

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This is what makes me happy - not money,

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not sex, not power, not any of those things,

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but to truly live for God.

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'Catherine's also considering a life in the convent,

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'but there's one thing holding her back.'

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If you like the opposite sex and you would like to marry,

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that is a genuine sacrifice.

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'We follow Clara and Catherine over six months,

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'as they prepare to take a radical leap of faith.'

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I find that, like, the hardest thing, to give up my friends.

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I am putting everything in God's hands!

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I can't begin to imagine what it's going to be like to take that step.

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I'm really bad at make-up.

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I'm not one of those people who spends ages getting ready.

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I just slap it on to cover up the worst bits.

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'Clara's 23, and has just finished her degree at Aberdeen University.

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'She knows exactly what she wants to do with her life.'

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Gosh!

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These are the last few months I'll be able to wear make-up.

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When I'm having a bad day,

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I appreciate a little mascara.

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I won't be able to put anything on

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when I have a bad day in the convent.

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'In 12 weeks, Clara will join a community of nuns

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'who shut themselves off from the world

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'to devote their entire lives to God.

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'If she chooses to stay, Clara will never again leave the convent.'

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As soon as I visited for the first time

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I knew that was all I wanted to do.

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I've been ready for this chapter to end three years ago.

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Now I'm finally at the end of university

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it's just amazing, a really good feeling.

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WOMEN LAUGH AND CHAT

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'Clara and her friends

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'are celebrating the end of five years studying together.'

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-Will you be allowed to meet people?

-No. You're not allowed out.

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-There's a room with a barrier.

-Can we come into your...?

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There's a parlour with a barrier and you can come up to the barrier.

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-But not across.

-Are you restricted to specific times?

-An hour a year.

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-No! Clara!

-Will you wear your hair up in a bun?

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-I'll get it chopped off.

-ALL GASP: No!

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-Your lovely curls!

-No, I do get it chopped off.

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-All of it?

-Pretty much.

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-No!

-I'm not looking forward to that bit.

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I'll send you a lock!

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-Yeah! You should!

-Each person can have a lock of my hair!

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Thank you for coming.

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It's lovely to have everyone together for one last meal.

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ALL GROAN

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I want to wish everyone all the best with everything they're doing.

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I'm sure you'll go on to do great things.

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I really want to see her again.

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She's hilarious, she's also one of the nicest people I know.

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I really don't want to lose her.

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We all think about different times we'll see each other.

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It's weird thinking that Clara won't be there.

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I don't want to get emotional.

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Yeah, it'll be weird, definitely, without her.

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LAUGHS

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MUSIC: "Ooh La La" by Goldfrapp

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# Dial up my number now

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# Weaving it through the wire... #

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I'm very much a girlie girl. Love being pampered.

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Love girlie things.

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Girls should be girlie.

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I was in the OTC, the Officer Training Corps.

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I was the worst officer cadet ever.

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'Catherine's 25 and a languages student at King's College, London.

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'Like most girls of her age, she spent the last few years

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'travelling, partying and studying.

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'She's modelling in a charity fashion show,

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'but it isn't Catherine's first time on the catwalk.'

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I sent photos to five agencies for a lark.

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I got a call and they offered me the contract.

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I went to castings. I always got the job. I never got turned down.

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They always wanted me to do catwalk.

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They never let me do editorial. It was always shows.

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I remember after my first paying show going home and feeling empty.

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Like, "Is that it? That's not that great."

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I thought I was going to be really happy that I've made it.

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"This isn't as fulfilling as I was expecting it to be."

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'Since she was a child, Catherine's had dreams of becoming a nun.

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'In her 20s, the decision is more complicated.'

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I've always liked boys and sometimes boys like me as well.

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So that would be a big sacrifice, giving up marriage

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and your own family and children.

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'With her time at university coming to an end,

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'Catherine's ready to decide whether life as a nun is really for her.'

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I love people and I love travelling and I love having a good time.

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But that's not all there is.

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I don't want to live my life and say at the end, "Well, I had fun."

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That's not what I'm about. That's not what I think life is about.

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It's a totally different world now. You do get a different kind of nun!

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'It's less than three months before Clara enters the convent.

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'She's going home to County Durham to spend summer with her family.'

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Oh! It's good to be back!

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-You're a lot later than I thought.

-Dad took the wrong turn! Oh, dear!

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I tend to put it to the back of my mind, the fact that she's leaving.

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And so I just try and carry on as normal.

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I don't think, "I've got to do this one last thing."

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I can't deal in that way.

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Just enjoy the moment and just...be ourselves, really.

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-Benedict!

-I thought you were... INAUDIBLE

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No, I'm not a nun yet.

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-Did you think I was a nun already?

-No.

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'I'm so lucky. I've got such a wonderful family.

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'I've had a great uni experience,

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'so it's funny that I would feel unfulfilled.

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'I know there's something more to life that I can only achieve

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'if I do this radical thing of giving myself to God and entering this community.'

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'Clara first visited St Cecilia's Abbey three years ago.'

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People think it's extreme because you spend all your life there.

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You don't come out even during the day.

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It's so you can live a life hidden with God

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and free from the distractions of the world.

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Here you can actually click on walks with the nuns on a virtual tour.

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See them having their recreation.

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They've got their great summer hats on. They're quite cute.

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'Clara's chosen a life of silence and contemplation.

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'When she enters the abbey, she'll spend up to seven hours a day in prayer.'

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You're not really meant to talk,

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just have a conversation about anything.

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You're not meant to do that, apart from recreation.

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I think that will be tough. After a while, it'll get to me.

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I have to keep my mouth shut.

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The meal times, I have to try not to talk.

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Not to laugh.

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'While many communities of nuns are struggling to survive,

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'Clara's order is flourishing.

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'In the last five years, they've welcomed eight new sisters,

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'the youngest only 19.'

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I don't know. I felt really happy there.

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And...somehow I knew that that was where God wanted me to be.

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I felt this amazing sense of peace that I hadn't felt before.

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-Shall I hide you under my habit?

-Yeah.

-They wouldn't be able to tell.

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You have to get up really early, at quarter to five in the morning.

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I don't care! I hate sleeping!

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You'd be a perfect nun, then!

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'The eldest of five children,

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'Clara's grown up in a devout Catholic family.'

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She's doing this out of faith.

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We all share that faith.

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So we just have to trust in God that, if it's for her,

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then we shall...we'll be blessed out of it, although it's difficult.

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'Clara's family will only be able to visit her

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'twice a year and talk through an iron grille.

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'They can exchange letters but not phone calls.'

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-That's a nice one. Maybe get a copy of that.

-I'd quite like that.

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We're all together, finally.

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'My first reaction was that I don't want to lose her. She'll be gone.

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'The second reaction was,'

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will she be happy there?

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Will she be able to cope? Will she get homesick?

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Will she miss her brothers and sisters?

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If it doesn't work out, will she feel she's failed?

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Will that be bad for her?

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You always look lovely, Mum. You've just had a baby! Amazing!

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Part of me wants you really to succeed.

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A little part of me thinks, "If it doesn't, you'll come home."

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I can understand that. Yeah.

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'Not all nuns live hidden from the outside world.

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'The Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal are in Inner City Leeds.

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'They're one of Britain's most youthful religious communities.

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'The average age of the sisters here is just 30.'

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When I would think, "I think I might be being called to be a nun,"

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it seemed something so radical,

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something so different to what a lot of my peers were doing,

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all those I'd gone to college with were doing.

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I mean, out of the stratosphere kind of different!

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'Sister Jacinta grew up in Northampton.

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'Before entering the convent in her late 20s, she lived with friends

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'and was working full time as an occupational therapist.'

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I was really afraid,

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afraid of what it meant, afraid of how it would change my life.

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If I gave everything up that I thought was making me happy,

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then I would be miserable.

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Once I got past that, once I started to meet sisters, young nuns and say,

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"They're not unhappy. They don't seem miserable.

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"Maybe that's just a myth. Let's see what this is.

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"Could it be the thing for me? Could it be what makes me really happy?"

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-# Glory, glory

-Glory, glory

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-# Hallelujah

-Hallelujah

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-# Yes, I laid

-My burden down

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-# My burden down

-My burden down... #

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THEY GIGGLE

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I think the most common reaction we've had in the car

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is you'll get a beep, then all of a sudden, you'll turn around

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and there'll be a mobile phone held up, taking a picture.

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One person in the car sees and they're, like...

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Telling their friends. Yeah.

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'The sisters in Leeds are part of a larger community of nuns founded in the United States.

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'They came to Britain as missionaries in 2009.'

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Hey!

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We try to live, and we choose to live, in poorer neighbourhoods.

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As much as we can, we choose to not own anything of our own.

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We choose to drive cars that are donated to us.

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They don't always work very well!

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We choose to live with the food that people offer us

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because if we're serving the poor then it's a contradiction

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if we're living a rich lifestyle.

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We need to be like them to identify with them, so they can identify with us.

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I love this place!

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I come down twice a week.

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Just for your warm glow and...

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..just to hear you. I like talking to you cos you're warm and friendly.

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You bring joy to our hearts, too.

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# Hark the songs of holy Zion... #

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'All nuns make a promise to God to live according to three vows -

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'poverty, chastity and obedience.'

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'Why on Earth would you do that? To be poor, chaste, obedient.

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'That seems odd to the world.

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'But I've found that this is what makes me happy. Not money.'

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Not sex. Not power. Not any of those things.

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But to truly live for God.

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'Catherine's on her way to visit a convent in the New Forest.

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'She's been spending time there for the past few months

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'to help her decide if she's genuinely called to become a nun.'

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I don't want to spend years wondering and not making a decision,

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but it obviously has to be right.

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So I wanted to go again and see how it goes, basically.

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See if I can imagine myself there.

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WOMEN CHANT

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'The Dominican Sisters of St Joseph

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'spend much of their daily life in prayer.

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'But they also leave the convent to spread the word of God.'

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'Sister Hyacinthe looks after the young women interested in joining.'

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'There is no predefined person

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'that's meant to be a nun and fits the bill.

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'The Lord can call anybody at any point.

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'The type of young women that come here

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'are the types of women living out there in the world.

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'Women who live a normal life of drinking, boyfriends,'

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partying, all these things, part of human life,

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they've usually done it or are doing it.

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And yet there's something more, they want more.

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BELL RINGS

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'When somebody writes a letter to ask whether they can join us,

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'we have to make the decision

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'whether they can join us.

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'It is a decision that is ours to make as well.'

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Are we desperate enough to take anyone?

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Not really! Because we then have to live with them.

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LAUGHTER

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'When I'm here, I love it here.

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'Each time I come back, I like it more and I want to join more.'

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And the desire is stronger, it's constant, it's very much there.

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'They're such good beautiful people. I look at them and I admire them.

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'And I want to be like them.'

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LAUGHTER

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'Catherine became my Facebook friend.

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'Then she contacted me and said she was interested in a religious life.

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'So we're just trying to get to know her better.'

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In order to better find out the kind of life

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that she would be happiest in.

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'The community only admits new sisters once a year.

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'If Catherine wants to enter the convent this September,

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'she'll have to make her decision soon.'

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'She's not, as yet, asked to enter.'

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I don't know whether she'll do it at all.

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We're still at the level of interest and enquiry at the moment,

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more than commitment.

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NUNS SING: # But deliver us from evil. #

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NUNS SING: # ..Jesus name so sweet

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# Jesus name so sweet Emmanuel name so sweet

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# Jesus name so sweet... #

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'The sisters in Leeds have been invited to a local Catholic school

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'to give a talk to the pupils.

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'They have a unique approach to teaching others about their lives.'

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Does anybody know what this is called?

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-A gown.

-Well, it's kinda like a gown. Good guess.

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-A garment.

-Close. I'll tell you. It's called a habit.

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Does anybody know what this is?

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I'll give you a clue. # Here comes the bride #

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-A veil.

-Good job! So it's a veil.

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Then who knows what this is called?

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-Rope.

-It's a rope.

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It has another name. You've probably never heard this word. A sincture.

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So we have a veil. We have a habit. We have a sincture.

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-What are these on my feet?

-Sandals.

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That's right. I have sandals on my feet. Who knows what this is?

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-Rosary.

-It's a rosary, that's right. Good job.

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To help you remember those things, we're going to do a little exercise.

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I want you to all stand up. Push your chairs in.

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You'll recognise the tune cos it's a song you learned when you were a kid.

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I'll show it to you then you join in.

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-Can you do it?

-Yes.

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# Veil, habit, sincture, sandals Sincture, sandals

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# Veil, habit, sincture, sandals Sincture, sandals. #

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Ready? We'll do it slowly.

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# Veil, habit, sincture, sandals Sincture, sandals. #

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OK. Fast. # Veil, habit, sincture, sandals Sincture, sandals

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# Veil, habit, sincture, sandals Sincture, sandals

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# And rosary and three knots for our vows

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# Veil, habit, sincture, sandals Sincture, sandals. #

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Good job, year seven! Woo-hoo!

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OK, you can take a seat.

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Does anyone have a question? Put your hands up.

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Did you have to give up everything like all your mobiles and your computers and your house and stuff?

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Yes, we do give it up. We don't have internet or TV.

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Or lots of gadgets and iPhones and things like that, and iPods.

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But I love it. I'm so happy that way.

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LAUGHS You don't look happy!

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You look horrified at the thought!

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-Are you allowed make-up or piercings?

-We choose not to wear make-up.

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Just to have a simple life.

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Probably, it would look funny if you saw a nun with a veil on

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and lots of mascara and eye shadow and everything.

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OK.

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Oh, my God! Shocking! How can a girl live without make-up?

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It's like the item of a girl!

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Everybody needs it. It just makes you feel better.

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I'm shocked that all they wear is those gowns.

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Habit. Yeah, that's it.

0:21:420:21:45

They don't wear jeans and like your trackies and that,

0:21:450:21:50

where you can just sit on the sofa and just relax.

0:21:500:21:54

But they always look cheerful, so if God can make them cheerful,

0:21:540:21:58

then I don't think it's wrong, I just think it isn't for me.

0:21:580:22:03

'It's only a few weeks before Clara enters the convent.

0:22:050:22:09

'As a nun in training,

0:22:090:22:11

'she won't be able to take any of her own clothes with her.

0:22:110:22:16

'But she's been sent a short list of items she CAN bring.'

0:22:160:22:20

We don't know. This is a mystery. No-one knows where nuns go shopping!

0:22:200:22:25

-Nuns R Us!

-Yes.

0:22:250:22:28

-Moving on.

-Blue plain full-length long-sleeved night dresses.

0:22:280:22:34

-I don't know if they exist.

-A pair of silent slippers!

0:22:340:22:38

-What's a silent slipper?

-I suppose one without a tickety-tackety heel.

0:22:380:22:43

Ssh!

0:22:430:22:45

I'm going to make a right racket round the corridor with these(!)

0:22:480:22:52

-It's not long-sleeved.

-It's long-ish.

0:22:520:22:56

It's elbow length. I don't think I'll get away with that.

0:22:560:23:00

"Can I help you?" "Yeah. I'm becoming a nun."

0:23:000:23:03

-"I need some nun sandals!"

-"Do you have anything suitable?"

0:23:030:23:07

Oh, God! No! I can't put them on with socks. They look awful.

0:23:180:23:22

'When she enters the convent,

0:23:220:23:24

'Clara will embark on the first stage of training to become a nun,

0:23:240:23:28

'known as postulancy.'

0:23:280:23:30

I've got my makeshift veil. It consists of a pillowcase.

0:23:300:23:35

So, just to get the general idea...

0:23:350:23:38

'She won't yet have a habit, but there's still a uniform to wear.'

0:23:380:23:43

I think I need a sheet!

0:23:430:23:45

You kind of have it pinned like that

0:23:450:23:47

and you wouldn't see the rest of my hair.

0:23:470:23:51

Oh!

0:23:520:23:54

That's really scary. Reminds me of one of my primary school teachers.

0:23:540:23:59

-What?

-The nuns, you know.

0:23:590:24:01

Oh, sorry. Yes.

0:24:010:24:04

-Can you help me do something?

-Oh, gosh. That's scary.

0:24:040:24:07

You do it. Just so it's kind of pinned back.

0:24:070:24:11

She just looks really like a nun, like a young nun.

0:24:110:24:15

It makes me realise it's coming close.

0:24:150:24:18

But she looks very happy, so I suppose that's a good thing.

0:24:180:24:21

I'm quite excited, cos it means she's getting on with the journey.

0:24:210:24:26

-She's embarking on this new phase.

-Doing what I really want.

0:24:260:24:30

But also it's a fear of not seeing her so much.

0:24:300:24:33

-Mixture of feelings, really.

-Aw!

0:24:330:24:36

-Don't cry, Mummy.

-Anyway, better get on without me.

-Yes.

-Yes.

0:24:360:24:40

-Mm.

-Give me a hug.

0:24:400:24:43

I'll go and get Daddy.

0:24:430:24:46

-I'll go and get Daddy. OK?

-Yeah.

-All right. Well done.

0:24:460:24:50

How does a mother get through this? >

0:24:500:24:52

Does it make you question your faith? >

0:24:520:24:55

The thing is, to me, it's not like I have my life, I have my family

0:24:550:25:00

and then I go to church.

0:25:000:25:02

My faith is part of... It is who I am.

0:25:020:25:06

And so if God calls Clara to this,

0:25:060:25:10

then I must support her, and I want to support her.

0:25:100:25:14

I don't resent God for taking her away from me.

0:25:140:25:18

I think God has something beautiful for her.

0:25:180:25:22

And I would be...

0:25:220:25:25

I would be denying Clara so much

0:25:260:25:28

if I didn't let her pursue this vocation.

0:25:280:25:32

I feel joy in my heart that God's chosen her.

0:25:320:25:36

-Trying to get me drunk!

-Slainte mhath.

-Slainte mhath.

0:25:380:25:42

'Catherine's with her younger sisters for a night out in London.

0:25:420:25:46

'They're keen to know if her stay at the convent has helped her move closer

0:25:460:25:51

'to a decision about becoming a nun.'

0:25:510:25:54

There is still that chance that I could meet someone and marry.

0:25:540:25:58

You can never say never, and you can never know for 100%.

0:25:580:26:03

There's a big part of me that wants to give my life to God in this way.

0:26:030:26:07

I'm taking the steps and if it's right, I'm totally willing to do it.

0:26:070:26:12

Because there's been murmurings for so many years,

0:26:120:26:16

it wasn't a shock, but in a way,

0:26:160:26:18

it still is a bit surprising because

0:26:180:26:21

she'll be giving up a lot that she enjoys.

0:26:210:26:24

Sometimes, I do think...

0:26:240:26:27

-I won't say it.

-Say it!

-If you married someone,

0:26:270:26:30

your husband would have a lot to put up with!

0:26:300:26:34

MUSIC: "Rolling In The Deep" by Adele

0:26:340:26:38

'I do feel torn, pulled in two directions.

0:26:460:26:49

'I've been told I would make a good wife and mother.'

0:26:490:26:53

And I would love to, so, if that's what God wants

0:26:530:26:58

I would.

0:26:580:27:00

< What do you want?

0:27:000:27:02

'I really like the community. When I'm there, I want to join.

0:27:020:27:06

'When I come back in the world, it's so hard to...

0:27:060:27:09

'It's just hard, I guess.'

0:27:090:27:11

'Surely, you should know.

0:27:110:27:13

'You should WANT to be married or to be a sister. One desire should be stronger than the other.'

0:27:130:27:19

I've been praying, "Give me that desire for one, so I know where you're calling me."

0:27:190:27:25

'You do have to jump in the dark and take this leap of faith.

0:27:250:27:29

'I'd like to be more happy about this.'

0:27:290:27:33

BELL RINGS

0:27:490:27:52

Holy Mary, mother of God...

0:27:540:27:56

'Like all nuns, the sisters in Leeds have made a conscious choice

0:27:560:28:00

'to live without a physical relationship.

0:28:000:28:03

'But contrary to popular belief,

0:28:030:28:06

'the convent isn't a refuge for women who've been unlucky in love.'

0:28:060:28:11

It wouldn't be much of a compliment to God if he chose the remnants,

0:28:110:28:15

the ones that couldn't get a husband or weren't very attractive.

0:28:150:28:21

Or left on the shelf! It wouldn't be much of a compliment to him.

0:28:210:28:25

By becoming a sister,

0:28:250:28:27

we don't stop being human beings with natural feelings and emotions.

0:28:270:28:32

In the same way that a married woman would guard her heart against falling in love with another man,

0:28:320:28:38

we guard our hearts and we've given them to our spouse, Jesus Christ.

0:28:380:28:43

'It's a long engagement to Jesus.

0:28:440:28:47

'Sister Jacinta had been a nun for eight years

0:28:470:28:51

'before taking final vows.

0:28:510:28:53

'In a formal ceremony in 2009,

0:28:550:28:57

'she made a lifelong commitment to Christ.'

0:28:570:29:00

LAUGHING: 'I remember my heart was beating really fast!'

0:29:000:29:05

I remember I was just, um...

0:29:050:29:09

There was such an intense emotion at that moment,

0:29:100:29:13

of what I was about to do.

0:29:130:29:16

Living in your goodness without property,

0:29:160:29:20

in poverty and in chastity.

0:29:200:29:24

Receive this ring

0:29:270:29:30

for you are betrothed to the eternal King.

0:29:300:29:34

'There is a ring given.

0:29:340:29:36

'There is the signing of the vows.

0:29:360:29:39

'My mum and dad walked me up the aisle.

0:29:390:29:42

'So, yeah, it looks a lot like a wedding.

0:29:420:29:46

'For me, it FELT like a wedding.

0:29:460:29:49

'I really felt that I really knew Jesus was there, waiting.'

0:29:490:29:55

I've been captured. My heart's been captured by...

0:29:550:29:59

..the most perfect man!

0:30:000:30:02

'It's now days before Clara will begin her new life in the convent.'

0:30:050:30:10

-I remember getting that! You got it cos it looked like me.

-I did.

0:30:100:30:14

You looked like that when Auntie Sis came to visit.

0:30:140:30:18

It's exactly how you looked when you were about eight months.

0:30:180:30:22

'The idea is that, when you join a convent,

0:30:220:30:26

'you are really meant to get rid of all your possessions

0:30:260:30:30

'from your previous life and start afresh.

0:30:300:30:33

'Although I want to,'

0:30:330:30:35

sometimes it's hard and you think, "What if I come out and need stuff?"

0:30:350:30:40

I feel like I'm getting rid of my friends as I throw away my letters!

0:30:400:30:45

I don't want people to think I don't care about them.

0:30:450:30:49

I just have to do it.

0:30:490:30:51

I really want them to write me lots of new letters.

0:30:510:30:55

I'll be so happy to hear from them.

0:30:550:30:58

One of the most important things to me

0:30:580:31:02

is friends and stuff...

0:31:020:31:04

I'm getting emotional now.

0:31:040:31:06

-VOICE BREAKING

-I find that the hardest thing,

0:31:060:31:10

to give up my friends cos I really care about them.

0:31:100:31:15

It means a lot to me, so...

0:31:150:31:17

I don't like to...

0:31:170:31:19

lose touch with people, so...

0:31:190:31:22

I think that's why it's really hard to give away letters and stuff.

0:31:220:31:27

Oh! You've got me crying!

0:31:270:31:29

It's true, though, it really is. I don't care about stuff.

0:31:310:31:36

I really care about people.

0:31:360:31:38

I'm not looking forward to letting all the people go in my life.

0:31:380:31:44

Oh, God!

0:31:450:31:46

'Without God, it would be quite frightening.'

0:31:530:31:56

Without my faith, I'd think, "Gosh! I'm going to get really depressed.

0:31:560:32:00

"Everything's going to seem so empty."

0:32:000:32:04

So you just have to pray, don't you? Get back on your knees.

0:32:040:32:08

Pray and ask God to help you, just support you,

0:32:080:32:12

physically support you in your physical weakness.

0:32:120:32:17

Yeah.

0:32:170:32:19

Good night, Benedict.

0:32:240:32:26

You want a hug?

0:32:280:32:30

Did you get all of my hair in the way?

0:32:320:32:35

You ready for light off?

0:32:350:32:37

'It's Clara's last day at home.

0:33:020:33:05

'The whole family are preparing to drive to St Cecilia's Abbey on the Isle of Wight to say goodbye.'

0:33:050:33:12

Clara, will you please hurry up?

0:33:140:33:16

That's another five minutes!

0:33:160:33:19

Mum, just give me two seconds!

0:33:190:33:22

Just two seconds, please?

0:33:250:33:28

CLARA SOBS

0:33:280:33:30

Clara's suddenly just frozen.

0:33:440:33:47

She can barely move. I'm not being mean to her.

0:33:470:33:51

I just need to get her going. She'll be all right.

0:33:510:33:55

ANDREW AND BENEDICT CHATTER >

0:33:550:33:58

It's a big thing, leaving your home, isn't it?

0:34:100:34:13

If you'll be back or...

0:34:130:34:15

CHILDREN BICKER >

0:34:240:34:27

'"Dear Mummy, Daddy, Max, Francesca, Jerome and Benedict and Bella.

0:35:450:35:49

'"So, here it is, my first letter.

0:35:490:35:52

'"I am very pleased to be able to tell you

0:35:520:35:55

'"after two weeks, that I am still alive.

0:35:550:35:59

'"Nothing could have prepared me for the shock of actually leaving you all, and leaving the world.

0:36:000:36:07

'"Emotionally, it really hit me when the big oak doors closed behind me

0:36:070:36:12

'"and I left you all standing on the other side.

0:36:120:36:16

'"I felt in total shock, like I had been plunged into cold water.

0:36:160:36:22

'"Although I have been preparing myself for years for this moment,

0:36:220:36:27

'"I suddenly felt completely unprepared.'

0:36:270:36:31

"From what I have said so far,

0:36:340:36:36

"it probably sounds like it's rather miserable and I want to come home.

0:36:360:36:41

"But funnily enough, I'm actually very, very happy."

0:36:410:36:48

I can't read any more. SNIFFS

0:36:500:36:54

I couldn't open it for crying.

0:36:540:36:57

Um, but when I got it, it was...

0:36:570:37:00

it was really reassuring to know that she's all right.

0:37:000:37:04

In fact, she says she's very happy.

0:37:040:37:07

And um...

0:37:070:37:09

It was just lovely to hear her voice through the letter.

0:37:090:37:13

Just to have her thoughts

0:37:130:37:16

and have a bit of time with her, reading the letter.

0:37:160:37:19

I came in here. Andy was at work and the children at school.

0:37:190:37:24

It was nice because I could read it and think about it

0:37:240:37:27

and look back over it.

0:37:270:37:29

CHANTING

0:37:310:37:33

'After months working out if she should apply to enter the convent,

0:37:430:37:47

'Catherine's come back to St Dominic's Priory to talk to the sisters about her decision.'

0:37:470:37:54

'Sister Hyacinthe asked me,

0:37:570:37:59

'"What do you want deepest in your heart? What do you desire?"

0:37:590:38:03

'And I said, "To be a saint and to do the will of God.

0:38:030:38:07

'"To bring love and joy to people. That's what I want."

0:38:070:38:13

'So that's compatible with this way of life

0:38:130:38:16

'and I think I could do that best here.'

0:38:160:38:20

How DO you know it's right to take the next step?

0:38:200:38:24

Because you want to.

0:38:240:38:26

I think that's the key thing, wanting to.

0:38:260:38:29

It's simple, but it's key.

0:38:290:38:32

'Catherine's hoping to join the community in September,

0:38:420:38:46

'but the sisters have also been thinking about whether she's ready.'

0:38:460:38:51

It's not... Oh, I really don't want to disappoint you.

0:38:510:38:56

My main concern is for your happiness.

0:38:560:38:59

-There's no way it could be this September?

-Well...

0:38:590:39:03

-Tiny, tiny, one percent chance?

-I can report to the sisters.

0:39:030:39:07

-I want to do what your advice is.

-You will profit from it.

0:39:070:39:13

-We just want you to deepen your life of faith.

-Yes.

0:39:130:39:16

For you to make a better decision.

0:39:160:39:19

-Mm.

-A more...

0:39:190:39:22

A decision which is absolutely sure.

0:39:220:39:25

And if you're absolutely sure now,

0:39:250:39:28

if it's genuine, it's not going to go away in a year.

0:39:280:39:32

-Mm.

-You see what I mean? It needs to have this test of endurance.

-Yes.

0:39:320:39:38

Otherwise it's, "Let's do this!" "Let's do that!"

0:39:380:39:41

-You see what I mean?

-Yeah.

0:39:410:39:44

I do see. It's not that I've decided on a whim, yesterday.

0:39:440:39:49

I've been saying this since I was four years old.

0:39:490:39:52

-Oh!

-I trust whatever you decide.

0:39:520:39:56

-You'd have to rush through everything.

-I'd love it, but...!

0:39:560:40:01

-What you decide is what you decide.

-Well, it's not my decision.

0:40:010:40:05

-It is.

-It's not my decision at all. It's the community's decision.

0:40:050:40:09

'We hope and pray that she does come back. It's also a testing time.'

0:40:090:40:15

She really wants to join us now, yes,

0:40:150:40:18

but will she want it in six months' time?

0:40:180:40:21

If not, well, that will be a good sign for all of us

0:40:210:40:25

that this was not meant to be.

0:40:250:40:27

It has to be the decision that comes first and foremost

0:40:270:40:31

beyond everything else the world has to offer.

0:40:310:40:34

Whether it be success, money...

0:40:340:40:37

or even meeting the most perfect possible man.

0:40:370:40:42

Um... I would rather be here.

0:40:430:40:45

I would rather give myself to God than doing all of this.

0:40:450:40:49

"For ignorance belongs to the shepherds..."

0:40:560:40:59

'If Sister Hyacinthe had said, "Come this September," I'd have done it.'

0:41:010:41:06

So I was disappointed, but she gave me really good advice.

0:41:060:41:11

It's true, you can't enter if you're not 100% sure.

0:41:110:41:15

'I've never been a very patient person

0:41:150:41:18

'so God is teaching me to be patient.

0:41:180:41:22

'I'm really enjoying the journey.'

0:41:220:41:25

It can be frustrating, not always knowing where the future lies,

0:41:250:41:30

but it's exciting as well.

0:41:300:41:32

I'm very optimistic and hopeful about the future.

0:41:320:41:35

"It was, of course, very hard not being with you for Christmas.

0:41:500:41:55

"I kept thinking of you all at home, opening presents

0:41:550:41:59

"and tucking into Christmas dinner.

0:41:590:42:01

"When I got my presents from you in the morning, the first thing I saw

0:42:010:42:07

"was Benedict's picture which said, 'Come back, Clara.

0:42:070:42:11

"'I wrote you on my Christmas list.'

0:42:110:42:14

"And that was enough to start the waterworks."

0:42:140:42:18

'It's been five months since Clara entered St Cecilia's Abbey,

0:42:240:42:29

'and her family are adjusting to an unexpected development.

0:42:290:42:34

'Clara has come back home on an indefinite break.

0:42:370:42:41

'The door has been left open for her to return,

0:42:410:42:45

'but she's taking time out to decide whether she can cope with life in an enclosed order.'

0:42:450:42:51

'I really love the community, but can I practically do it?'

0:42:510:42:57

I love it, I know I do.

0:42:570:42:59

But can I live it? That's what I've got to think about.

0:42:590:43:02

Bless us, oh Lord, and these Thy gifts...

0:43:020:43:06

'The main thing I was finding difficult was adjusting to the limited contact with my family.'

0:43:060:43:13

It might just be that my personality is I can't deal with that aspect

0:43:130:43:17

as well as the other sisters have been able to.

0:43:170:43:21

That arm on there..

0:43:210:43:23

'It was hard coming to terms with the fact

0:43:230:43:26

'that it wasn't going to pan out as simply as I thought it would.'

0:43:260:43:30

I was going to enter, and I was so sure that I wasn't coming out.

0:43:300:43:34

It took a heck of a lot of getting used to.

0:43:340:43:38

'But I don't think, at any point, I've failed in any way.

0:43:380:43:43

'I think I would have felt like I'd failed'

0:43:430:43:46

if I hadn't tried, but I know I have tried.

0:43:460:43:50

So, I think if you try something and you try your best,

0:43:500:43:54

then there's never any reason to feel like you failed.

0:43:540:43:59

COUNTRY ROCK GUITAR INTRO

0:43:590:44:02

-# Rise!

-Rise!

0:44:050:44:07

-# Shine!

-Shine!

-Give God the glory... #

0:44:070:44:10

'It's never easy to figure out, "Where is God calling me to?"'

0:44:100:44:16

It's not like it comes out of Heaven on a fax!

0:44:160:44:19

'It takes a lot of patience. It takes a lot of courage.'

0:44:210:44:25

Hey, Charles!

0:44:250:44:27

'In myself, too, there are times of doubts and times of struggle.

0:44:270:44:31

'You know, the ups and the downs.'

0:44:310:44:34

But I can really honestly say, in my heart,

0:44:340:44:38

that I wouldn't want to be doing ANYTHING else.

0:44:380:44:42

-# Rise!

-Rise!

0:44:420:44:44

-# Shine!

-Shine!

-Give God his glory

0:44:440:44:47

-# Soldiers!

-Soldiers!

0:44:470:44:49

# Of the cross

0:44:490:44:51

# Soldiers of the cross. #

0:44:510:44:56

Documentary following the stories of two women in their early twenties as they prepare to become nuns.

At the beginning of the 21st century, becoming a nun might seem like an extraordinary thing to do. Yet each year in Britain, a small but growing number of young women are giving up careers, boyfriends and everything they own to devote themselves entirely to God. So who are these women, and why are they willingly choosing lives of poverty, chastity and obedience?

Clara is 23. She is bright and popular, and has just graduated from university. To her classmates' amazement, Clara has decided to join a community of nuns who live closed off from the outside world, dedicating their days to prayer and silent contemplation.

Twenty-five-year-old Catherine has travelled, dated and even worked as a catwalk model, but her childhood dream of becoming a nun has never left her. Could it provide the fulfilment she has been searching for? Or will the sacrifice of marriage and motherhood prove too much?

Sister Jacinta entered the convent at 28. She is a member of The Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal, one of Britain's most youthful religious orders, where the nuns' average age is just 30.

Filmed over 6 months, the documentary gives a unique insight into a rarely seen world, challenging stereotypes and exploring what convent life can still offer young women today.


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