Burlington, Vermont - January 13, 2012
When you step inside Mercy Connections in Burlington there are two signs-- one Hope the other Faith.
Lucille Bonvouloir has both of them -- she's been helping the underdog for decades. Today she's teaching immigrants the Constitution.
She knows a thing or two about religion. Lucille is Sister Lucille, a Catholic nun.
From first appearance Lucille, doesn't look like a Sister, but she says actions, not a uniform should be the judge of character.
"Don't you respect me as a woman, do I have to be dressed as a sister in order to get respect?" she asks.
The 69 year was born on a farm in Orwell.....her calling was decided at a young age.
"A lot of people would be shocked that you became a nun at 18. Well I would be shocked today, but in those days it was normal," she says.
She's been a nun for over 50 years and a fixture in Chittenden County, even running COTS, the organization that helps the homeless.
"Oh, she's a Super Nun, Super Sister, Super Senior, she's a super human being," says Director of Mercy Connections Dolly Fleming.
When Trinity College closed, the Sisters of Mercy wanted to have a legacy, and Mercy Connection was born. It primarily helps women who are struggling become more self sufficient.
Today the Catholic Nun is teaching a Muslim woman basic English.
At the Sisters of Mercy Convent in Burlington, the number of nuns has decreased, but their age has definitively increased. Sister Lucille said these woman are the amazing ones.
"I don't care how old I am -- I'm 93 and will be 94 this month," says Sister Rose Rowan.
Another is 97 and a half.
There are two dozen living here, and the average age is in the mid 80s. All very sharp, even when asked why there aren't any young nuns anymore.
"I think there's several reasons," says Sister Rose Rowan.
But in an answer more eloquent than my footwork.. they all said smaller families and more choices for woman have caused the decline of nuns.
"When I'm their age, if I could hold them up as a model or as I want to be, that would be it," Sister Lucille Bonvouloir says.
Sister Bonvouloir says as a young woman she was exceedingly shy, but she has come out of her shell. She's dedicated in making people's life better not in a boisterous way, but with a quiet determination.
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