If Nuns can leave convents so easily, why all the fuss when Sr. Ligouri ran away from the convent at Wagga, N.S.W.?

The Catholic Answers

Any fuss was caused by bigoted Protestants who hoped to work up a scandal against the Catholic Church, and who persuaded the Sister to sue the Bishop for $25,000 for wrongful arrest and detention in the Reception House for deranged people. The verdict was given for the Bishop. In his summing up, after all the evidence of that famous case of 1921 had been taken, Judge Ferguson said that she herself had refuted any idea of any unkindness shown her whilst a member of the community. He remarked that the conducting of the case for the plaintiff was marked by sectarian feeling, adding that “questions were asked designed to show that people of her faith could not be believed on oath,” and that other questions “were intended to bring into question the propriety of the convent system.” No breath of scandal, however, resulted. The Judge also pointed out that Sr. Ligouri had no difficulty whatever in leaving the convent, but that, instead of leaving in daylight, fully dressed, she departed at midnight, half-dressed, and without shoes, leaving no word whatever as to her intended destination. She had no relatives in Australia, and the convent authorities had every reason to suspect mental derangement. They sent to find her having a duty to provide for her. The Judge said, “I am amazed that the convent authorities are called upon to excuse themselves for having sent to search for her. What would have been thought of them if they had not done so?” In her disturbed state of mind she sought refuge with complete strangers who happened to be Protestants, and the Orange Lodge took up her case to the bitter disappointment of its hopes. Sr. Ligouri left the convent in circumstances which would lead anyone to conclude that in her own interests she should not be let loose upon the world in such a deficient mental state. She would not have been retained in the community, and would certainly have been given a dispensation from her vows. But out of charity the Nuns insisted upon making provision for her until they could give her into the keeping of her own relatives. The “Ligouri Case” was a complete fiasco as an argument against convent life.

Radio Replies Volume 1 by Rev. Dr. Leslie Rumble MSC and Rev. Charles Mortimer Carty