Book Corner: Nun pulls sister act, ditches habit in memoir

Published 7:05 pm Friday, September 9, 2011

“The Red Skirt, Memoirs of an Ex Nun”
By Patricia O’Donnell-Gibson
Stuart Rose Publishing, LLC  2011. 349 pg.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to look into the inner world of living life as a nun? Perhaps you lived among them growing up in school and church. Maybe you worked among sisters. You may still recall with a smile, the movie, “Sister Act,” where one could see the inside of a convent momentarily, or see the sisters learn how to sing in a comedic and animated fashion. But that was comedy in a staged setting. This leaves the observer still curious, only to long for more answers to unanswered questions. What is life like, living a holy life while married to the Lord in the Catholic faith? What factors in one’s life take hold in order for this to happen? This obviously does not occur randomly. But why the title, “The Red Skirt?” You’ll have to read the memoir and find out!
Author, Patricia O’Donnell-Gibson gently takes readers by the hand as she invites them to catch a glimpse of this exclusive and private world in her memoir, “The Red Skirt, Memoirs of an Ex Nun.” As she creates this piece, her riveting narrative will not be forgotten. The pages could not turn fast enough. This memoir could easily transform into a major motion picture some day. Her writing leaps off the pages with vivid and descriptive scenes for the readers’ eyes.
O’Donnell-Gibson grew up with her siblings in a home filled with love and a dedicated commitment to the Catholic religion. Growing up during the 50s and 60s, she attended church with her family as part of their normal routines. Her parents instilled this value in them quite early. This fated journey for O’Donnell-Gibson began when missionaries came to her grade school and church to spread the word of the Lord. The children were asked to consider serving the Lord as a future calling and way of life. O’Donnell-Gibson believed they were personally speaking to her soul.
How can she refuse if this is to be her life’s mission? So O’Donnell-Gibson takes this seriously. By the end of her senior year in high school, she decides to join the Order of the Adrian Dominicans in Adrian, Mich. This is where Patricia begins her newfound life as a sister in training, referred to as a “postulant.” In fact, throughout the book, the author lays out a glossary of terms that acquaint the reader with this newfound sanctuary. Life with these new ways of studying and praying is not easy for the faint of heart. It is only meant for the most dedicated and devout in spirit to succeed. O’Donnell-Gibson tirelessly transforms herself emotionally with even some physical demands, into a dedicated teacher and nun.
After many years serving God and teaching children, O’Donnell-Gibson decides to leave convent life behind. She does not make this decision hastily. Here she receives the same amount of love and support from her convent sisters as she did when she entered the convent doors for the first time. As the author leaves her nun habit behind, a new life with endless possibilities awaits this beautiful swan.

Author Bio
O’Donnell-Gibson left the convent after five years to become a wife, mother and public school teacher. For years she would think about her convent past, and the fact that her own children couldn’t grasp that their mother had been a nun. This led her to reflect through writing, the years she decided to become a nun, and why she didn’t remain one.
O’Donnell-Gibson was a teacher of English and literature for 30 years. She holds a master of arts degree from Western Michigan University from 1992. She lives in Watervliet, Mich. on beautiful Paw Paw Lake with her husband and two cats. Their combined family is quite large; between them they have seven children and 13 grandchildren.
O’Donnell-Gibson’s book is for sale at Forever Books in St. Joseph and at Buffalo Books in New Buffalo. For more information about O’Donnell-Gibson and her book, visit A study guide is also available.