Sister Donatella Soul / The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, San Diego Chapter
I am certain some of you readers recall watching Armistead Maupin’s TALES OF THE CITY run on PBS in 1994. Do you remember the brief scene with the roller skating “nuns” (a reference to the very beginnings of The San Francisco Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence) and the scene in the roller disco where John and Michael (Mouse) meet?
These scenes and the pre-AIDS epidemic 1970s are the inspiration for an upcoming novice project by Novice Sister Allison Wonderland, a member of The San Diego Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, The Asylum of the Tortured Heart. “What is a novice project?” you may be asking.
Becoming A Fully Professed Member
In order to become a fully professed member of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (SPI) in any house in the world, there are stages to accomplish, just as there would be for any nun. One begins as an aspirant, in other words aspiring to join the house. This is the stage where members of the house and the aspirant get to know each other. The aspirant attends events and other outings where the Sisters will be present to observe and find out if the organization is a good fit for their service calling. The house members also decide if the aspirant is a good fit for the house at this time.
The second stage is postulant. When an aspirant decides they would like to pursue becoming a member of the house, they submit a letter requesting elevation to postulant status. At this stage the junior member will choose two sponsors who, along with the Mistress of Novices (MON), will guide the postulant in their initial learning about the operations of the organization, how to deal with the public and the media, and put them to work raising funds and setting up and breaking down events, for instance.
Once the junior member, the MON and the house think it is time to move forward, the postulant submits another letter requesting elevation to novice status. This is where SH*t gets real. The member receives their first house coronet and veil and are fairly free to speak to the public regarding SPI, albeit in the presence of a fully professed member. They choose a “Mother”, who may be one of their sponsors or not. It is at this stage when the member is required to complete a novice project in order to be considered for elevation to fully professed member status. The projects range from fundraisers to chili cook-offs to picnics to full blown concerts. The project is the choice of the novice, approved and streamlined by the MON and the novice’s Mother.
Roller Skating Nuns At Skateworld
Novice Sister Allison Wonderland chose this very special theme celebrating the beginnings of SPI. The event is open to all ages, genders, and preferences. Did I mention it ‘s FREE? Come join us Sunday, May 15, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm at Skateworld, 6907 Linda Vista Road. There will be contests, prizes, great music, and best of all, FUN!
Interview With Sister Allison Wonderland
I sat down with NvSr Allison Wonderland to ask a few questions that may give you insight into the path of a novice sister with the Sister of Perpetual Indulgence:
Tell me about your novice project. Why did you choose this particular theme?
This event is meant to bring the many LGBTQ San Diego County community groups together for a night of spreading joy and networking with proceeds raised going to the 2017 Conclave account. This event has been set up as a community building event. Voluntary donations will also be accepted, and opportunity tickets will be available for purchase during the event. The event entrance is 100% free to the public as this event has been underwritten by several community sponsors and community donations which will pay for the cost of the event space rental. By putting on this event, we will be able to spread joy to multiple different organizations and individuals in the community including the LGBTQ youth from San Diego and north county, as well as the other members of the community who might not feel comfortable at an establishment that serves alcohol, as this is an alcohol free event. Spreading joy is a fun and exciting thing for sisters and is one of the core pieces of our mission, so why not do it on wheels like our founding sisters did in the Castro district of San Francisco in the early 1980’s!!
How did the choosing and reservation of the space come about?
When talking with people about my idea for doing a roller skating party for my novice project, one of my friends recommended that I look into SkateWorld as he had done an event there in the past and truly loved the venue. He also explained how very nice the staff are and how easy to work with they were. I then contacted the venue and spoke with one of their event coordinators and quickly put a hold on several dates in April and May. After presenting the idea to the House, the date of May 15th was chosen and the event space was booked!!
How did you become involved with SPI? What is your “calling”?
I officially put my Aspirant letter (my first letter of interest) in to the house in October of 2014. I had been a friend and follower of the Grand Canyon Sisters for many years before that when I lived in Phoenix, but never chose to join until meeting the San Diego Sisters. For some unknown and celestial reason, the timing was right, the wind was blowing the perfect direction, and the stars were aligned in such a manner that I just knew it was time to step forward and tempt fate by putting in that letter. I have always known that I wanted to give back, and not just give back but truly devote a part of my life to charity and the betterment of my community. But there was something different about the Sisters than any other organization I had come in contact with before. The Sisters are the only organization that I know of who’s mission is so simple and yet so far reaching — promulgate universal joy and expiate stigmatic guilt. I believe that my calling with the sisters is to use my skills as a leader within the healthcare arena to continue to educate the community about suicide prevention and resources, STD awareness, and the Joy and unconditional acceptance of the Sisters.
How did you choose the name “Allison Wonderland”? What does it mean for you?
Allison Wonderland actually chose me. One night at Tiger’s Pictionary at #1 on Fifth Ave, after racking my brain for months trying to decide on a name, a friend of mine was drawing a 3 word phrase on the Pictionary board. He drew a rabbit, then a top hat, then some playing cards, and finally started drawing a little stick figure of a girl in a dress. Being the Disney fan that I am, I knew right away what he was drawing and yelled out the answer, “Alice In Wonderland”. And at that exact moment in time Sr. Amanda Reckonwith looked at me and said, “That’s it”. But even before she had said it, I knew that my name had chosen me. So, from that moment forth, except for a short stint as Wanda Leeda-Kult (but that’s a different story all together), my sister name has been Allison Wonderland.
How has your journey with the Sisters been? What growth and learning about yourself and your community have you experienced?
All of the sisters that I have had the pleasure to meet have shown me different aspects of who they are and in turn have allowed me to see different aspects of myself. The journey itself has had its ups and downs, thrills and frights, and yet has never made me feel that I can’t reach any goal that I set my mind to. I have been fortunate to have such a loving and supportive house of sisters who encourage growth within the new members. I have learned that I am not alone on this journey, that glitter and shimmer powder are completely different, that I will never again wear heels while marching in the rain, that sunburn still happens even with white face on, and that the love and compassion of our community never ceases to amaze me. As for the future, I can only hope that I can continue to do better and greater things through this wonderful family of Sisters that I have been blessed with.
Sister Donatella Soul, Guardian of the Googly Eye,UNPC Alternate Board Member; The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence