Instead of spotlighting a group like, say, these sisters, (who just knocked “50 Shades of Gray” off the top of the Billboard classical chart), the New York Times has decided to go in another direction in writing about Catholic music this holiday season. The result is below.
When Kathy Sherman was in college during the final years of the Vietnam War, she played the guitar with friends in her dorm room and sang folk and protest songs over bowls of popcorn. They sang Peter, Paul and Mary and Joan Baez, and some friends said her voice reminded them of Judy Collins.
Sister Kathy graduated and joined an order of Roman Catholic nuns, the Sisters of St. Joseph of La Grange, but she never stopped making music. Last spring, when the Vatican issued a harsh assessment of the group representing a majority of U.S. nuns accusing them of “serious doctrinal problems,” Sister Kathy, 60, said she responded the way she always does when she feels something deeply. She wrote a song.
The words popped into her head two days after the Vatican’s condemnation, as she was walking down the hallway in her order’s ministry center, feeling hurt and angry: “Love cannot be silenced,” she thought. “It never has. It never will.” She went into the center’s dining room and tried out the lyrics on some of her sisters. They liked the message.
“Love Cannot be Silenced” became an anthem, not just for the nuns but also for laypeople who turned out for vigils in front of churches and cathedrals across the country this year to support them. In a voice sweet and resolute, Sister Kathy sang, “We are faithful, loving and wise, dancing along side by side, with a Gospel vision to lead us and Holy Fire in our eyes” — a lyric that evokes the nuns’ novel forging of spirit with steel.
“I see it more as a song of affirmation than a protest song,” Sister Kathy, her gray-green eyes sparkling, said in an interview in October at her religious community’s ministry center here outside Chicago. “I wasn’t protesting anything. I was saying, ‘This is our story.’ “
UPDATE: To hear an audio recording of the song “Love Cannot be Silenced,” visit this link.