Carondelet Motherhouse

Carondelet Motherhouse


When you’re a poor kid with foreign parents everything

is a wall and you grow up with a keen sense of where you

belong and what belongs to you even when there are no sidewalks

on the perimeter even when the wall is gray and hard and high

with no invitation yet still you imagine fanciful things.


My friend Angie lived near the motherhouse on a state street

and we ran the Mississippi by Broadway where she thought she had

an older boyfriend – this was in the 80’s and folks were fleeing city politics

for better gated communities and more walls and suddenly

south city was all mine and I defiantly kept it.


And little was left behind but parishes and structure to pull us in

such fearsome Catholic entities yet protective and in awe I felt

ownership and pride in their architecture and it was something better

than nothing but though I walked along the walls I never dared

climb over like a thief to explore the inside of the compound.


In one generation we leap the social boundaries because we can

in America and in half a lifetime I was welcomed into the walls to see

what was there and it was not fearsome or crumbling but bright and preserved

it was less cloaked it was reaching out into its beaten neighborhood and

its people padded quietly and reverently though their treasure.


When I was young I never heard the bells ringing and I never saw

the gardens looping over the walls or the polished wood floors but it was

all there waiting like a sentinel and the patience of ages while others fled

for plastic for quick fixes for escape and I was left behind to navigate

through stone and barriers and then back home.


(“Carondelet Motherhouse.” Connections Magazine 2011, Fall/Winter, Page 11. Print. Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet: St. Louis.)


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