A: I don’t often get to Traditional Mass. When I’m home in San Diego, which is rare on a Sunday because I travel so much, I do go to the Tridentine Mass. At the mausoleum, in San Diego, is where it is held! And, it is just so beautiful and reverent, that I truly, truly love it.
Q: Why did you choose St. Louis for your order?
A: I don’t know that I could come under a Bishop whom I could respect more, than Archbishop Burke. And I’m just thrilled to be coming.
Q: What is the name of your order?
A: Daughters of Mary, Mother of Israel’s Hope. Actually, it was God who put together St. Louis, for me to come there. It actually was a desire of my heart and a surprise from God, let me just say it that way. I am thrilled to be coming to St. Louis.
Q: You’ll find the weather not as nice, no doubt.
A: As San Diego? But remember, I’m a New Yorker, I’m a Brooklyn bum. I grew up in New York. I actually miss the seasons, and I’ll be thrilled to be in St. Louis. The desire that I have is to reach the poor, and the rich, and every class of society, and race, creed, tribe, tongue and people.
Q: So, in terms of identifying the charism of your order, would that be a statement of it? Or is there something you have written?
A: No, not formally yet. Under the name, Daughters of Mary, Mother of Israel’s Hope, I have, and will have on the website that I will have up as soon as I can, “Hope for the nations. Hope for the family. Hope for you.” My desire is to flood the world with habits. I’ll just tell you this—the story in a nutshell. When I was twenty, Jewish and single in New York, and didn’t have a clue Who Christ was, or who Christians were, the news came out that nuns had permission to shorten their habits to knee length. And, physically, it went straight through me. And I thought to myself, whoever these women are, in long black and white things—I don’t think I even knew the word “habit” then—they’re in the world to affect the world for God, and alas, the world has affected them. Now in today’s world that would be a very politically incorrect, insensitive statement. But that was the response of a 20-year old Jewish girl who didn’t have a clue; and the thing is, it was my loss. It was my deep and immediate loss. I lost something that was never mine to begin with. It affected me, and I never forgot it.
I have written my conversion story for Honey from the Rock, the story of 16 Jewish people who came into the Church. My brother, David [Moss], is also one there. Roy Schoeman edited the book. I said at the end of my story that now that I’m Catholic—referring to when I was twenty years old—I want to restore the years the locusts have eaten with an order of sisters that will restore the hemline to the floor and the habit to the world.
Q: I’m sure you’re aware of the statistics that show that the more conservative, more traditionally-dressed orders are flourishing—there is more to it than just the habit, of course, but there tends to be a correlation between the obviousness of the habit and the orthodoxy of the order. Would that be a fair statement?
A: It’s a hundred percent fair. I absolutely think so, and I know the young people today—religious young men in the priesthood—they want God; they want orthodoxy; they believe the Church is the Church Christ established; the Magisterium is the Church’s teaching office; the Church is our Mother.
God did not leave us on earth as a family any more than He did Israel, to do our own thing. Israel was to be a people set apart, by government, by dress, by food, by customs, by everything they did and did not do. It was unthinkable for anyone in Israel to do their own thing, and if they did, in many cases they would be put to death. When Jesus said to His disciples, “I will build My Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it,” the word he used for “Church” was the Greek translation of the Hebrew word for the assembly, for the people of God convocation. And we, too, the new people of God are to be a people set apart by their common government, and liturgy, and customs, and all of that.
I think the young people coming up in the Church today know what the Church is, and will address the confusion of the last years. Coming into the Church, people have said to me, and to my brother David, “How did you ever find your way into the Church in a day like this?” And the way we found our way in was not through Catholics so much, but it was the Church—it is true, and it is God’s. I think that’s what young people absolutely long for today; not just young people, but people of all ages.
So, yes, we are to be a people set apart, and people entering the priesthood and religious life want to be signs of God to the world and are unashamed to let people know. They are signs of eternity. In their habits, in their clerics, they are signs of eternity in our hearts. I know for a good many of the religious sisters who have done away with their habits, that I have had the opportunity to speak to, for the most part, they have done away with the habit because they don’t want the habit to be a barrier between the people they so love and wish to serve. But I believe the people need the sign very, very much. They need the sign. They need God. They need us to be set apart. They need us to be separate from the ordinary, because we are God’s representatives on earth. People need us to be set apart so we can help them—not be one of them—help them on their way to Heaven.
Q: Regarding coming into the Church in a time of confusion, I have a friend who expressed the notion like this, “Come on in, the water’s horrible.”
A: Yes, yes I know it. I actually heard Fr. Groeschel say that in his dear Brooklyn accent—it’s awful, come on in!
Q: Will your order primarily be a contemplative order, active, or mixed?
A: We will be a contemplative/active, evangelistic and teaching order. Contemplative and active, because service is the fruit of prayer, and we wanted nothing apart from prayer and apart from God.
Q: Will you pray the Divine Office in common?
A: We will have the Divine Office, we’ll have a Holy Hour, Mass every single day, Rosary every day.
Q: Who are your patrons?
A: St. Francis de Sales is going to be our Patron. He is the Patron for the Order. He’s my saint, too. St. Francis de Sales is my personal spiritual director from Heaven, I don’t mind saying that; I think he’s given me that confirmation. And he will be the director of the Order.
Q: You couldn’t do any better.
A: Oh, I am just so thrilled and I love St. Francis de Sales. I’ve read almost everything he’s written, including the spiritual directory he wrote for the Visitation nuns. And when he formed the Visitation nuns, with St. Jane de Chantal, they were going to go out and to the poor and the elderly, but the bishop of that time ordered them to be cloistered because it wasn’t well-heard of for nuns to be walking the streets. So, I said to St. Francis de Sales, “So, do you want to do it now? We can do it now.” And we are going to do it now.
When I visited St. Louis and went into St. Francis de Sales Oratory, I had just never been in anything more glorious in my entire life. And I’ve been to Rome! I’ve been to I don’t know how many cities in Italy, and many, many, many churches in Rome, but my heart has just never responded in such a way as it did when I entered St. Francis de Sales in St. Louis and saw that huge statue of my saint right there.
Q: The Institute of Christ the King celebrates such a beautiful and reverent liturgy—it touches you.
A: Oh, it’s magnificent. I’ll tell you it’s my dream to be settled initially in a working class area with a magnificent Church, and there’s no more ideal situation than to be exactly where St. Francis de Sales Oratory is, for me. However, I don’t know what God would have yet. To be in a parish that celebrates only the Tridentine Mass, I don’t know that. And so, that’s something that I want God to lead in.
Q: So, you don’t have a permanent location picked out yet?
A: I don’t. I am hoping to meet with Archbishop Burke as soon as he’s able to do it, and begin to explore a facility or convent in St. Louis. That’s what I hope to do.
Q: Have you already received any inquiries for vocations with your Order?
A: Oh, dozens. Dozens.
Q: If you’re looking forward to St. Louis, I think you’ll be welcomed here with open arms.
A: Thank you. I’ve heard from women from St. Louis, but also from women from all over the country, and we’ve had several dozen inquiries. Women are hungry. What we’re going to do is—I’ve already written the Rule, or Spiritual Directory for the Order—and we’re going to spend a good amount of time in the streets. Normally, when you see nuns, if you see them, that is, it’s because they’re on their way to Church, school, a meeting, or to wherever they’re going. But when you see us, it’s because we’ve reached our destination. I want that time in the streets. I want to be out in the streets in our habits when people go to work and when children go to school, because I want them to think of God. It doesn’t matter to me what faith they are, or if they have no faith. Even if they are angry with God, to see a nun in a habit they have to think of God. Whatever they think of God, they have to think of God. This is what I long for with all my heart.
Q: How will this affect your current speaking, writing and other apologetics work?
A: I will continue to do the “From the Heart” program with Catholic Answers twice a month, the first and third Wednesdays of each month. I’ll continue to do that from St. Louis. I’m not taking further speaking engagements at the moment, for the most part, but I’m going to try to fulfill what I can of the speaking engagements I have for Catholic Answers for the rest of the year.
Q: Thank you very much for taking the time to talk to my readers.
A: You’re welcome, and thanks. One more thing—we are in the process of designing the habits. And they will be to the floor (laughs), that’s for sure! We’re going to work with families, we’re going to teach the faith in the convent, we’re going to show films in the convent, we’re going to talk about God. I just want to reach people. I want to help families live for God. That’s foremost in my heart.
God bless you, and I’ll see you when I get to St. Louis.