They have been featured in the Union Tribune.
They are a historic group that started in San Francisco in the early 1980’s.
As a tribute to South Bay Pride, my friend Donatella Soul is here to tell us about the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. She is a Sister and active in their San Diego Chapter. Take it away, Donatella Soul!
Why are you dressed like that?
The first question Sisters are usually asked when out in face is “Why are you all dressed like that?” To which the answer is: “We’re Sisters. Have you ever heard of The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence?”
Sometimes people recognize the name, much of the time not, but they all are pretty much unfamiliar with our mission and our vows. Standard answers from Sisters to the question of what we do might be that we are a community service organization, that we fundraise, that we are a non-profit supporting LGBTQIA organizations, that we advocate for those who are ill, that we are political activists, and that we are clowns performing street theater to bring attention to issues affecting LGBTQIA people.
All true, and to these we add an abbreviation of our mission statement: we spread joy and expiate stigmatic guilt.
Or in full: we are leading-edge nuns dedicated to the promulgation of universal joy and expiation of stigmatic guilt.
Our ministry is one of public manifestation and habitual perpetration. That is certainly a mouthful, especially when drunk!
On Sunday, August 23, The San Diego Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, The Asylum of the Tortured Heart, hosted a Poolside Baptism at The Lafayette Hotel.
The event was an opportunity to have some fun in the sun with Sisters, get baptized in the name of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and witness Sisters taking public vows. Many of the Sisters present that day had not taken their public vows yet, so it was quite a treat for other Sisters and the witnesses. Beloved sister supporter Carolyn Mackay Gribble was on the spot to film the event.
The Poolside Baptism may seem irreverent, as many of the happenings promoted by the Sisters may seem. However, as an organizer of the Lafayette event, I can say that irreverence was not a driving force. Truth in definition and history did play a part. Why choose baptism as a Sister act?
Baptize is a Greek work. The root bapto means “to dip” or “dip into dye.” Baptizo was used in the dye trade. It means “to dip” or “to immerse” and once long ago referred to the transformation of the fabric when it was removed from the dye. Dyed fabric had a new identification, just as people baptized into a church are then identified with that church.
A Poolside Baptism with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence at the gay mecca of the Lafayette Hotel is a heavenly match. We encouraged those who were interested to ask a Sister (a member of the clergy) to provide a baptism. We got into the pool together and asked the person why they wanted to be baptized. All manner of reasons were given and after conversations, we asked the person if they were ready to let go of whatever was sabotaging their growth. Then we baptized them in the name of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence by pouring water over their heads.
As after any other baptism, those we have touched are now identified with the Sisters, free to spread our mission and are reborn in Joy within themselves, stigmatic guilt lifted from their hearts and minds — transformed.
Amen, Awomen, Achoo.
Donatella Soul. Elevated to Postulant in February 2013. Elevated to Novice Sister on January 3rd 2014. Elevated to Fully Professed Sister, June 23, 2015.
Check out a video of their baptism or enjoy the photo album of the Poolside Baptism by Richard T. Reyes.