Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Life Inspires Writing #NunBagsBuck

Recently I blogged about a social media controversy from back in my hometown, St. Marys, Pennsylvania, concerning a nun, Sister John Paul Bauer, who shot a buck during hunting season. I have not been able to stop thinking about the story and today I contacted Sister and asked if she minded if I used what happened in a story. To my delight, she had no problem with it. I have been working on a new Marienstadt novel, The Legend, which is a sequel to The Christmas Daughter. So, since the story opens in Lola's Strudel Shop where some deer hunters are causing trouble I decided to weave Sister's story into the novel. 

The main characters in the story are the Wilde family: brothers Kit and Boone, Boone's daughter Charity, their mother Minnie, and their sister Emily who is now a nun and has changed her name to Sister John-Paul--a name I borrowed from the real Sister John Paul, because I loved it. So here is the first scene in which my fictional Sister John-Paul talks to Sister Ursula about what has happened: 

“Sister John-Paul, are you in there?” Sister Ursula Wolfe turned the door handle of one of St. Joseph’s Convent’s study rooms. Through the frosted glass window she could see the glow of a computer monitor. She opened the door and peeked inside.

“Hi.” Sister John-Paul looked up from the keyboard. “I was just checking social media. You'll be pleased to know you now have your own hashtag—#NunBagsBuck.”

Sister Ursula's face grew pale and she walked around the desk to look at the computer screen. “Does Sister Adelaide know?”

“I haven't told her and I won't if you prefer.”

Sister Ursula let out a slow sigh. “She'll find out soon enough, I suppose. Are the comments horrible?”

“A few of them are. But there are far more positive ones.” She smiled at Sister Ursula. “There are a lot of very positive posts by people from all over the country. You should be pleased that so many people want to support you.”

St. Joseph's Convent had been embroiled in a social media controversy for the last few days all because of a picture that had appeared on St. Walburga Parish's web site. Sister Ursula, who grew up with two brothers and a father who were avid hunters, had taken up hunting some years earlier. She was an excellent shot and the convent was grateful for the venison she added to their larder when her hunt was successful. This year she shot a two hundred pound buck from her tree stand on the first day of the season. She was so pleased with her success she stopped to show it to Father Nicholas Bauer at St. Walburga's, Marienstadt's oldest Catholic Church. The buck had a nearly perfect rack and Father Nick, always eager to share Marienstadt's culture and traditions, had taken her picture with the deer and posted it on both the parish's web site and Facebook page.

Within hours thousands of people had seen it. Some congratulated Sister on her success but quite a few others were outraged that a nun would go hunting, let alone be so successful at it. When the story began to trend on Twitter, Sister Adelaide, the convent's prioress, requested that Father Nick remove the picture from the web sites, but it was too late. Within hours television stations all over the state and blogs all over the country picked up the story and a social media ruckus ensued. Father Nick was apologetic. Sister Adelaide, true to her fiery nature, defended a nun's right to participate in local customs. Sister Ursula was mostly embarrassed.

“When will this stop?” she asked.

“Don't worry,” Sister John-Paul said, “some people have too much time on their hands. People keep asking what happened to your deer.”

“Andy Kneidel's processing the meat at his butcher shop. Some of it will come here to the convent and the rest is going to families that I know can use it.” She glanced at the screen where a news outlet from Philadelphia had the story prominently displayed. “Blaise Hanes is mounting the head although I have no idea where it will hang. I'd offer it to Dad but there are so many of them in the house now Mom wouldn't appreciate it.”

Sister John-Paul thought for a minute then said, “What about asking my brother—asking Boone—if he'd hang it in the Tavern? It would go great with all the wildlife carvings he's been hanging.”

“That's a great idea. I just hope this all dies down soon.”

I hope to have The Legend ready in time for Christmas. Thanks for reading.


  1. I think this is a wonderful way to celebrate the real story and the local traditions. Thank you for including this story as part of your latest offering - can't wait to read it!

  2. Thanks, Marcia, I'm working on it now.


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