Artist, Filmmaker, & Photographer


︎︎︎ About
︎︎︎ CV
︎︎︎ Contact
Sour Cherries
In my hometown there is a convent of nuns, the rare old-fashioned kind of nuns that still wear the full habit. The nuns run a daycare out of their convent next door to the Catholic church, across the street from where my first elementary school was before it got demolished. They have run this daycare since 1979; I started there in 1996 and attended from ages two to eight. 

When I was small there were three nuns, Sister Consolata – the head of the convent and known to be stricter than the others, Sister Angela – quiet and gentle, and Sister Lennie – warm and welcoming. They were very sweet and, like loving Nonnas, made home cooked meals for all the children every day. After I stopped going there for daycare I would still visit them, usually around the holidays, or later on college breaks.

I have an especially vivid memory from when I was about three years old; it was late spring and I was in the back yard of the convent with Sister Angela. There were other kids outside but I wasn’t interested in playing, I followed her. The convent had a big back yard with a playground, swings, a field for soccer, a patio to play hopscotch and jump rope, and in the far corner a large Madonna shrine.

Back by the fence, opposite the shrine, was a cherry tree. The tree grew sour cherries that were not sweet enough to gain favour with most children.

The first harvest of cherries was perfectly ripe and Sister was gathering some to enjoy after dinner - I was eager to help. She wouldn’t let me climb the ladder so she put her basket on the floor and would pass me the cherries to place in the basket - except I ate more than I put away. 

The nuns did not spray the tree with pesticides so I would break the fruit open with my thumbs to check for worms. This would dye my fingers pink but I liked it because it looked like nail polish, which I was not allowed to wear. Sister Angela laughed at the joy I had doing this and would send me home with a jar full of fresh cherries whenever they were in season.

When I recall this memory I can feel the warm sun on my face coupled with the late-June breeze from that day.

None of the nuns that I grew up with are there anymore.

Sister Lennie left the order when I was about eight. Her parents were sick and she wanted to go home to the Philippines to care for them, the Mother Superior would not give her time off so she decided to leave. This created a bit of a scandal amongst the older Italian ladies in my hometown. A few years later, after her parents passed, she moved back to Niagara and the gossip eventually settled down. I saw her a few times at the grocery store I worked at in high school; she had gotten married and seemed happy. Sister Angela moved back to Italy three and a half years ago.

As part of the vow in their order, the nuns agree to be buried in a central cemetery in Italy with the order’s founder and their sisters. A little while before she turned eighty Sister Angela received instruction to return to Italy. The same thing happened to Sister Consolata a year later. It costs too much money to ship a body so their superior made them leave the community that they had lived in and nurtured for over three decades to live out their final years waiting to die in a strange place.

I found out about a week before each of them left that they were going. They did not complain or say anything negative but you could see the sorrow in their eyes. The last time I saw Sister Angela was at a party that the church threw for her before she left. It was so busy it overflowed into the parking lot. With Sister Consolata I found out she was leaving the day before I moved back to New York to start my senior year of college. I went to visit her by myself and cried all the way home.


Two months ago one of my aunts came to visit my grandmother for an afternoon coffee. She worked as the administrator for the sisters until her retirement last year. My aunt took a trip to Italy over the summer and went to visit Sister Angela and Sister Consolata at their convent outside of Naples. This was the first I had heard about either of them since they left Canada. They are able to see each other, which is comforting, and doing well despite their age. My aunt said she could see they missed our community, the place they had made their home.

And our community misses them too. Their presence was something I took for granted, something that I thought would always be there. A rock, a constant in my life, was moved unexpectedly; it is something I’ve had to come to terms with that doesn’t have a winning solution. I lose this love and there is nothing I can do about it.

The Catholic Church has spread its share of both love and cruelty in equal share. To disregard the happiness of those who commit themselves to creating the love that the church claims to bear is a cruel and unnecessary exercise of power.

March 2018
The creation of this website was funded by an Ontario Arts Council grant.