'I don't consider myself religious'

Growing up, I was not religious. However, when I visited my grandmother, I went to church. I haven't been in a church in more than nine years, so as of today, I don’t consider myself religious. Most people in my life who go to church belong Baptist ones, so I have had no exposure to the Catholic religion outside of this project.

Before meeting my sister, the only images I had of nuns were related to missionary schools, in the context of Native Americans. Also, before meeting my sister I thought they all wore habits and the long black dresses.

From my own ignorance about the Catholic Church I believed its members were very high and mighty, but Sister Elaine was so grounded and approachable that it took me by surprise. Once I met my sister, all the ideas I had about nuns were dispelled. She seemed very regular. I always felt that sisters or members of the church were hard to relate to on an everyday level. Like me, Sister Elaine has favorite movies, favorite places to eat and a family. For some reason, I didn't associate sisters with traditional family dynamics; yet she has nieces, nephews, brothers and sisters. Right around the time I met her she had just come from her nephew's wedding back in her hometown.

Surprisingly, after speaking with her for the second time, I found so many similarities between her and my mother. They are very natural and spiritual people who find great importance in sustaining the earth. One understanding my sister, myself and mother share is that spirituality is very separate from religion. We haven’t totally gone into detail about her ideas on theology and spirituality, but we did touch on the distinction.

I find her awareness about the world around her very refreshing.

About Za’Nia Coleman

Za’Nia Coleman is a freshman majoring in apparel design at St.Catherine University. At the end of her high school career, she got introduced to editing film. Now, working with SisterStory, she gets to expand her understanding of film and enhance her interviewing skills while fulfilling her curiosity regarding history and people’s individual stories. During the Fall of 2014 she was paired with Sister Elaine LaCanne, OP; a Sinsinawa Dominican. After completing her work as an oral historian she continued to work for SisterStory as a production assistant, helping create a number of promotional videos and assisting in the collection of oral histories for other students.