I was approached to review “Ring Around the Rosary” a memoir by Gretchen Grossman. I got so much more than I bargained for. As it started out, Gretchen as a little girl decided she might want to become a nun, but hadn’t really firmly committed to the reality. Unpopular with boys in her teens, she took that as a sign that she should be devoted to God. But her view of God didn’t exactly mesh with that of the Catholic Church. Once in the convent, she began to notice inconsistencies. For instance, they were not to have close confidential friendships with other nuns, could not enter each other’s cells, and were never allowed to talk with the older lifelong nuns. However there was one older nun that frequently could be observed spending time exclusively in one other nun’s company, even holding hands at times. The young girls were told only that the Sister was profoundly holy, but they wondered. Their life in the convent was very sheltered.
One shock after another followed. They had to sign contracts forcing them to commit to their vows. Their mail–incoming and outgoing–was screened and certain letters were not given to them at all. Gretchen’s mother made pretty aprons for her, but she was not allowed to keep them. They were locked away to be given as gifts at a later date. All this did not sit well with independent, creative Gretchen who was so close to her family, and she began to nurture a plot to leave the convent. After five years, she finally had her opportunity and refused to renew her vows.
Returning home to her happy family, she enjoyed wearing what she chose to, eating favorite foods, and the opportunity to date. When she met the man who would become her husband, she knew he was unlike anyone she’d ever met. He seemed absolutely smitten with her and it was a natural progression that they eventually married. Her wedding and honeymoon were like a fairy tale–in some ways. She had many experiences that she’d never had before; world travel, meeting new and different kinds of people, and she gave birth to two sons. But all was not as it seemed in their marriage.
This is a story of how little girl dreams and understandings don’t always continue into adulthood. But Gretchen grew profoundly through the unexpected circumstances, in a 180 degree opposite direction than she would have guessed as that teenager entering a convent to give her life to her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. She developed a new view of the church, her faith, and especially herself. You may see bits of your own thoughts in this introspective memoir. It may change your life forever.
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Thank you and God bless.