Religion: Lucy: Broken by the Demands

What began as a part-time kitchen job at an Opus Dei retreat in Pembroke, Mass., became a 20-year career for a woman we'll call Lucy. (She recently left the group and asks that her real name not be used.) Just 16 at the time she started working there, Lucy not only liked her co-workers but appreciated their spirituality as well. After graduating from high school in 1985, she attended Lexington College in Chicago, an Opus Dei-affiliated school for women interested in hospitality professions. That fall, without telling her parents, she joined the organization as a numerary assistant.

The assistants are the...