Sister Katrina

Sister Katrina was a new age nun in the spirit of Vatican II. My grade seven and eight teacher and first spiritual guide and inspiration. On weekends we would sit on the altar steps at Avila Centre and discuss who Jesus really was. And God.

On a field trip in Ottawa a taxi driver asked her on a date. She laughed and set him straight. We were on our way to see the movie Little Big Man starring Dustin Hoffman. Sleeping on the floor of a church basement and travelling by train.

Jesus Christ Superstar was new, revolutionary and highly controversial among Catholics. Jesus so human. Judas so something else. And Mary Magdalen? We listened to it every day.

A group of us were asked to prepare an audio-visual production for the Good Friday mass at one of the city’s biggest churches. A great honour, but did they have any idea who they were asking to do this? Sister Katrina taught us how to make slides by cutting pictures out of magazines and sandwiching them in plastic 35 mm slide cases. Voila.

We cut out tiny square images of every atrocity and disaster we could find and slipped them into a slide tray along with images of Jesus and stained glass. In the centre aisle of Corpus Christi Church, in front of the alter we placed a projector screen. The church had a good speaker system. I stood in the pulpit and said a few words. Someone turned on the music. Someone else turned on the projector.

Jesus Christ Superstar’s “39 lashes” boomed in the church as our slides assaulted the screen. It was 1971. Folk music during a Saturday night mass was one thing. This quite another. I believe “disgusting” was my grandfather’s word.

Years later I heard that Sister Katrina left the church and got married. I still know every word to Jesus Christ Superstar.




10 thoughts on “Sister Katrina

  1. This is great.. actually said “this is awesome”…You rebel you and JCSS was my favorte musical for many years.. Great, now I’m singing that song…”What’s the buzz”

  2. Sister Katrinas of this world leave more love and thus true faith in their foot steps than all the machinery of any organized religion … especially when they get married! I think you fortunate to have known her.

    • It was until I wrote this post… that I realized she was my first real spiritual teacher, and then what a profound influence she had. I would love to meet her today.

  3. Thank you for widening our view of your world with this beautifully sculpted narrative. I used to play JCSS on my mom’s record player. Brings back memories of a youth perhaps not as centered as yours…

    • Thanks for your kind comment Vivian. I must admit that after Sister Katrina, came high school at which point anything that may have appeared “centred” took a sharp left curve, soared, plunged, staggered back and forth… well, I guess you get the picture. Thanks for your visits!

  4. I was playing Jesus Christ Superstar on the way to a Good Friday service with the men in a maximum security prison 1-1/2 hours south of my house. By the time I reached the prison, I was ready. Our service and the dialogue afterward were wonderful.

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