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PHILADELPHIA, PA.,December 1,2010- For the past 35 years, Mother Antonette Marie Walker has chosen to live a religious life devoted to prayer. As a little girl, Walker went to mass with her family every Sunday. She attended catholic school for her entire life, and is an alumni of Saint Patrick’s Academy in Washington DC. Most high school grads dream of the freedom of college life, but that was not the case for Antonette Marie Walker.
At a young age, Antonette knew that she wanted to lead a religious life. With aspirations of becoming a nun, she entered a monastery right after high school at the age of 18. She chose to a monastery that the sisters of Saint Patrick’s Academy had recommended. Unfortunately, it did not work out for her. Antonette left after one year. She was not used living on her own, or being away from her family.
Antonette Walker was distraught and saddened by her incompatibility with the lifestyle of a sister. She thought to herself “If God doesn’t want it, then I shouldn’t want it either.” Soon after that, she got what appeared to be her second calling. She claims that her second calling was the most gratifying experience of her religious life.
“It’s just something in your heart that you feel God is asking of you,” Walker describes her second calling. She then decided to give religious life another shot. When asked how her family reacted to her decision, Antonette replied, “My mother did not approve, she was extremely disappointed in me. She did not like it at all. Everyone wants grandchildren at some point, but she eventually got over it. She’s with God now.”
After a long search, any many retreats, Walker finally chose a monastery in Bathesda, Maryland. When addressing the question of why she chose that particular monastery, Antonette said, “It has to be the right fit for both parties. It’s a long process really; I went and stayed with them for two weeks for an in house retreat. We needed to see how we worked together, then I decided to enter.” There, she attended their Junior College, and went through the process of becoming a nun.
Antonette explained the stages in the process of becoming a nun. Her first five years was the “formation period.” Antonette was a “postulate” for six months to a year, and then she moved on to the novis stage for two years. During that time she received her habit. She explained the habit “I was given a white habit to distinguish me from the professed sisters, you see they wore the habit like one I have on now, but I had an all white one because I was not fully professed at that time.”
The second half of her journey to becoming a nun consisted of her temporary confession, which lasted 3 years. During that time she took her “temporary vows.” After the three years comes final profession. Walker describes the process, “In religious life we have five to six years before you make our final commitment, its the same principle as finding a husband. You wanna date him for five to six years before you say I do- that’s it.”
After seven years in Maryland, Mother Walker had to leave because her monastery was closing its doors for good. In 1975, Antonette moved on to the Monastery of the Visitation on City Ave in Philadelphia. “God just brought me here,” she said.
There, Mother Antonette Marie Walker reigns as the Superior of the house. Walker over sees the six sisters who live in the monastery. She became the superior through a voting process. She is eligible to serve for two three year terms. Walker describes the voting process, “It’s not quite as complex as voting for the President of the United States, all we do is write who we want on a piece of paper and put it in a hat to be counted. Now, we don’t campaign, and are not allowed to talk about it [who they vote for]. The sisters just know who they want to vote for. It’s just something God asks of them.”
The Visitation is a monastery of Apostolate Prayer. There, the sisters do everything with the intensions of prayer. Mother Walker quoted St. Francis DeSales “You make your whole life a prayer.”
The Visitation differs from many other monasteries because the sisters who reside there are mainly silent. Although they do not take a vow of silence, they are silent for a majority of the day. There are certain parts of the house where sisters are not allowed to talk, they include the stalls, the meditation, and the divine office. Walker says “There are times through out the day where sisters must be silent, sometimes we talk during our recreation periods, but thats our life- a life of prayer.”
Many people believe that the sisters at the Monastery of Visitation are silent all day, everyday. Mother Walker states “Sometimes it’s just not possible to have exterior silence. It may even be selfish on your part; sometimes it may not be charitable to be silent. I love silence and I don’t like anybody to invade my silence, but look who we’re following… he did a lot of talking, but also he had his moments of deep prayer.”
Mother Antonette Marie Walker was adamant about explaining what a day in the life of a nun entails. All sisters must wake up at 5:30 am. Then they move on to Meditation till 6:00 and continue to the office of mourning prayer. After that they have mass. They continue to breakfast at 8:00 am. Mother Walker explains, “After that, we go to work. Some sisters are nurses, some sisters work in the library, we have a sister who cooks, we do all sorts of things.”
The sisters then go to the office of readings for a half hour. The office of readings includes various daily bible readings. Then, they go back to work. At noon, they have their biggest meal of the day. Mother Walker calls it “dinner” because it is their major meal. After dinner is recreation time for the sisters. This is one of the only times during the day where they are allowed to converse with one another.
The sisters progress to the office of daytime prayer after recreation, and later go back to work. They work until they have to go to the spiritual reading followed by evening prayer. Then, the sisters have meditation again. Next, the sisters have supper. This is meant to be a light meal, smaller than dinner, this is followed by recreation and a group mass reading. The sisters conclude the day with their night prayers, then lights out.
Mother Walker stressed that the sisters do engage in some normal activities. They watch the news on occasion. They also watch movies. Mother Walker said, “somebody sent us Flight 93, I did not like that at all, that was too sad for me. We also recently saw 2012, that wasn’t my favorite either, We all love The Reluctant Saint.” The nuns also watch the superbowl and the World Series every year. Antonette admits, “I pretend to be an eagles fan cause I’ve been in Philly for so long, but deep down I am a Washington Red Skins fan, I’ll never forget my upbringing in DC, I loved it there.”
Mother Walker concluded our interview with “We’re [the sisters] normal people that happen to be living a religious life. We’re all just people.
Have you ever heard of swallowing a sword? Wouldn’t you think that is dangerous? According to Tony Del Rio, it is safe enough to teach students! Sword swallowing is said to be an ancient art originating in India. The student, Stuart began to revive the art at the tender age of 16. His first attempt resulted in gagging and coughing. After being given a smaller sword, Stuart then got the sword past his second gag reflex. With out fear or hesitiation, Stuart got the sword all the way down this throat after the third try.
Over the course of the next 42 years, Stuart became a master of the sword. He earned himself a place in the Guiness Book of World Records, not an easy feat. With a great deal or practice, and experience, Stuart was able to swallow 25 swords at one time. With his “dare devil” persona, he also attempted the 7 Deadly Tortures which include “fire manipulation, glass and fire dancing, blockhead (or drilling nails up your nose), lying on a bed of nails, glass eating, making your body a human pincushion, and subjection to a modern form of electric shock treatment. From belly flopping onto glass, to sticking metal pins through his muscles, to absorbing intense electric current.”
The story, “First woman ascends into top Drill Sergeant Spot” explains the journey of a woman named Sgt. Maj. Teresa L. King. Teresa is one of twelve children who grew up on her father’s farm in North Carolina. She started her army career as a Postal Clerk, and moved up from there. King is especially interesting because she is the first woman to hold the position of commandment of the army’s drill instructors. In her 29 year experience, King has jumped out of 33 planes, and aced every physical training test. In previous years, the army has had some trouble recruiting women for this prestigious position. Many women state that they are unable to hold the position due to long hour, pregnancy, and prohibition towards women. In contrast to other women, Teresa states “When I look in the mirror, I don’t see a female, I see a soldier.” She trains her soldiers like any other drill sergeant, she is hard on them. Although unlike previous drill sergeants, King thinks of her soldiers as “her children,” and disciplines them using “tough love.”
King’s promotion puts a rest to gender discrimination for now. She proves that enlisted women deserve to have equal opportunities as men. Only 8% of high ranking, active duty soldiers are women. This statistic is alarming to Teresa. She has made it her goal to recruit more women into the army. Although not a prominent group, 13% of army personnel are female.
Contrary to popular belief, women can be just as good in their fields as men. Soldiers describe King “She can always find the cigarette butt under the mattress.” Like male drill sergeants, she believes in enforcing ethics and rules 24/7. She believes in being a role model for the soldiers she is training.
After reading the article “Tried by a Deadly Tornado, An Anchor of Faith Holds,” Many feelings came to mind. First, I felt remorse for all of those who lost their lives. There was a tragedy in Piedemont Alabama. The ironic part of this is that The 20 people, 6 of them being kids, died in a sacred place. Church is believed to be a safe place, but in the case of the parishioners of the United Methodist Church, it was not. I was astounded at the fact that many people did not turn away from the church. Most people kept faith. Although the Piedemont Community is struggling economically, they still have their faith. Piedmont is home to 20 churches, faith is obviously prominent in the small town. As long as they have faith, they can get through any tragedy
After reading the voice of San Diego article I realized many things about the world of Journalism. As an inspiring writer myself, I’m not so sure that I am for non profit news. I am kind of on the fence for many reasons. I like the purpose of non profit news. For example, the mission of the Voice of San Diego is “To pursue local accountability in journalism.” I appreciate that statement because I believe that everyone is entitled to hear the true, factual news stories. People want to know what’s going on. The Voice of San Diego is giving the public what it needs free of charge. Many people like this because subscriptions to newspapers can get expensive. Personally, I like the fact that it is a non-profit paper. In my opinion, non-profit journalists produce good stories because they have a real passion for writing. Another thing I liked about the Voice of San Diego is the public focus of the paper. Many times a news paper will have stories from numerous different cities or countries, and nothing from the local town.
Although there are many things that I do like about non-profit newspapers, there are also a few things that I do not like. Non-profit papers take business away from the major papers that have been around for so long. Many demographics read newspapers. For example, my father is a middle aged man who is technologically challenged. He does not know how to access a newspaper online. My family still has a subscription to our local newspaper. My dad does not have time to sit and watch the nightly news, but still wants to know what’s going on in the world. If the NY post were to go out of business, he would have no way of accessing news. I don not think it is right to run the other papers out of business.
Also, I understand the concept of “non-profit,” but if a paper is always struggling to make ends meet then why not make people pay for it? It doesn’t have to be as expensive as the NY Post or NY Times. I do not think the non-profit operation is sustainable in the long run. I believe that it can last for a short amount of time but in the end money always will be a problem. In society today, no one works for free. A newspaper with a 14 person staff and stories to cover can not survive for years to come with no money. The fact that they were thinking of selling mugs and tee-shirts for money tell me that they are in need of money. If they were thinking of selling mugs and tee shirts, are they really non-profit?