Religion: You've Come a Long Way, Baby

UNDER a statue of the Blessed Virgin in the hall of Los Angeles' Immaculate Heart of Mary Convent, Sister Anita Caspary talked last week with a white-haired woman in a simple print dress. Sister Anita is 54. The older woman, who has been an Immaculate Heart sister for more than 50 years, is agonizing over a decision. Should she join Sister Anita and 315 other nuns in leaving the order to form a new "lay community of religious persons"?

"Even when they are much older than I am, they still call me 'Mother,' " explains Anita Caspary. Two years ago, she gave...

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