It’s hard to believe that it has been over ten years since In Good Conscience: Sister Jeannine Gramick’s Journey of Faith, a documentary chronicling the life and ministry of New Ways Ministry’s co-founder, was released and met with applause, ovations, and awards at film festivals around the world. And what a decade it has been! Marriage equality is rapidly becoming the norm in the United States and in many parts of the globe, a new pope is in the Vatican, and Catholics in growing numbers are standing up for justice and equality for LGBT people.
To mark this anniversary, there will be a special screening of the inspiring film on Saturday, November 15th in New York City, as part of Believe Out Loud’s Level Ground film festival. (You can purchase tickets by clicking here.) Both Sister Jeannine and Barbara Rick of Out of The Blue Films, who produced and directed the documentary, will be available for a Q and A session after the film.
Another way that the anniversary is being observed is that Out of The Blue Films is releasing a special tenth anniversary edition which brings viewers up to date with some of the remarkable things that have been happening in the church and the world. And most importantly, the new version shows that Sister Jeannine is still actively ministering with LGBT people, continuing to resist the Vatican’s 15-year old order that she end such work.
The National Catholic Reporter’s Jamie Manson interviewed Rick recently to discuss the impact of the film and a need for an update of it. Rick explained what motivated her to undertake the project in the first place:
“I stumbled across something in The New York Times about an American nun who was refusing to be silent over her ministry to gay and lesbian Catholics. I remember just sitting up as straight as can be in my chair. I was like, ‘Oh my God, she is really doing something powerful.’
“This is a woman who is doing something revolutionary by refusing to be silenced by the patriarchal hierarchy of the Vatican. That just resonated very deeply with me: a woman standing up without fear (or in spite of fear) and saying, ‘I refuse to collaborate on my own oppression.’ That just hit such a deep chord in me.”
Rick reflects on what she learned about Sister Jeannine as she made the film:
“Her ability to speak truth to power and to deal with her enemies who outrank her really sets her apart. I’m so impressed by her persistence and her humor, her love for humanity, her dogged nature. She’s just determined. She just doesn’t give up. I really think she is a prophet. She has been fighting the way forward many decades. She was inspired by her friend Dominic, who asked, ‘Sister, what is the Catholic church doing for my gay brothers and sisters?’ That is the question that has hounded her for whole life.”
The filmmaker also commented on why she thinks Sister Jeannine’s story is so compelling:
“I think she was a part of this transformation that has happened in the treatment of gay and lesbian Catholics and gay and lesbian people throughout the world. She is part of the realization that all people are deserving of love, rights, respect and marriage. There was no talk of same-sex marriage 10 years ago. It’s very powerful to see how much the world has changed. I like to think that this film had a very tiny part to play in all that. The world was in the process in of changing, and we were documenting a little piece of that change. It’s one of the reasons that we wanted to revisit the film.”
Rick says the new film will be shorter and more effective, while also updating some of the content to reflect the changes that have occurred in the world and the church. The producer is still trying to raise funds to finish the new edition. To find out more about the new version and to make a donation to its production, visit the film’s website by clicking here.
If you would like to order a copy of the original film, you can do so by visiting New Ways Ministry’s online bookstore, and clicking on the button below the In Good Conscience icon.
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry