|American Daughters of Charity under|
10 years vocation
Wearing the coiffe - a simple blue veil - is entirely optional. Some Sisters go for it for various reasons and some don't, also for various reasons. Personally, at my house, there is one Sister that wears the coiffe and three that don't.
I recently had a long conversation with one Sister about this. Personally, the topic fascinates me. As we talked, I started creating a list of reasons to wear or not wear the coiffe.
Reasons to Wear the Coiffe
1. The coiffe gives a great witness. This happens in a number of ways - it shows others that young people are still choosing religious life (it's particularly a great witness to my generation, who wants to see this kind of radical witness) and it hopefully reminds them of God and their faith. It shows others that I'm a person of prayer and that may lead to people approaching me asking for prayers.
|Daughters of Charity in Kenya|
3. The coiffe gives a sense of accountability. Wearing the coiffe means that, without even speaking a word, people would know that I am a representative of the Church and my community. I must be responsible with my own actions.
4. The coiffe allows people to see that Sisters are real people. Many see Sisters, especially those wearing a veil, as stiff, strict and perfect human beings. Wearing the coiffe, while still being me, would hopefully shatter that stereotype and show others that Sisters are real people and just like real people, we're all unique!
5. The tradition. The coiffe is the 'successor' of the cornette, which the Daughters wore for centuries, after Mother Guillemin changed the habit during Vatican II. The cornette had become an international symbol for charity (as well as one of the most ridiculous religious habits, but still). And of course, the veil is also an international symbol for religious life.
Reasons Not to Wear the Coiffe
1. Your life is what gives great witness. I don't need a veil to give great witness. If people see that I have dedicated my life to God and the poor, it should hopefully remind others of God. People will hopefully recognize I am a Sister by the Vincentian cross hanging around my neck.
2. The coiffe sometimes isn't practical for ministry. I once heard a story about a Sister, who was/is a social worker. One of her co-workers was raped but didn't tell Sister, though she was a good friend, for several months. When Sister asked her why she had waited so long to talk to her, the friend said "well, you know..." and made a motion over her head to represent the veil.
3. People treat you different if you're wearing a coiffe. One Sister I know said she took off the coiffe because she was tired of complete strangers treating her with more respect than other people, tired of getting free things for no reason or being told she could skip ahead in line.
|The first habits of the Daughters|
of Charity looked more like this
5. The tradition. The mission of the Daughters of Charity is to serve the poor. Our founders St Vincent and St Louise wanted the Daughters to blend in, to wear what the poor wore. The cornette back in the day (1600s France) was the fashion of the poor - it was like a sun hat. The Daughters originally wore it to blend in with the poor. By not wearing the coiffe, we once again blend in with the poor.
I'm still undecided as to what I will choose because I do see good arguments on both sides. And the great thing is that all the Sisters remain united, whether they're wearing a coiffe or not. There is no 'competition' on either side, it's just seen as a personal choice.
So, what do you think? What would you choose? If you're a Sister, what did you choose?