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‘Rebel Hearts’: a unique women’s club

Did you ever think you’d read a story about hippy and rebellious nuns?

Meet the Immaculate Heart Sisters: Los Angeles-based nuns that stood up against the Church's Patriarchy and joined social movements in the 60s, usually related to women and racial rights.

The Holy Quartet, best known as ‘Rebel Hearts’, is a group of forward-thinking nuns from the Immaculate Heart Sisters who just wanted to do what was right. Representing strong women, Sister Anita, Sister Hellen Kelley, Sister Pat Reif, and Sister Corita carried the banner for social justice and equality during the mid-sixties.

They were educators, artists, scientists, musicians and activists taking the Gospel out of schools, convents and churches. Immaculate Heart College, in Los Angeles, became an intellectual hub where women could study and create art.

Their free-thinking and independent spirit during California’s heyday was the force that led them to walk with Martin Luther King in Selma and join the Women’s March after Trump was elected in 2017. A continuous social fight that still stands with force today. These nuns were committed to fighting for the good of everyone, so it’s understandable that their mindsets started to clash with the traditional ways of doing things within the Church, one of the most traditional and sexist institutions.

That’s the reason why in 1970 these nuns were forced to leave the convent. But this didn't stop them. ‘Rebel Hearts’ created their own secular organization out of traditional standards. Once out of the traditional religiosity, they made Mary’s Day their festivity, a day where flowers, art and folk music were in the limelight. Political statements were mixed with a general vibe of hippie love, aiming to achieve political and social changes.

Game changers

Their revolutionary spirit was a real change-maker, inside and outside the Church. The Sisters created a real spirit of benevolent revolution from LA to the world, demonstrating how calm spiritual women could also have their own voice. Their faith in action was like a tsunami for women and catholic people, a new mindset that stood up for the people and faith they served.

Nowadays, the Immaculate Heart Community welcomes men, laypeople, and families. They carry on the radical action and the force of community as their way of living. The movement that was so popular during the 60s is now a global success and a platform that helps women (catholic or not) to find their own voice.

Bringing the story of these brave sisters to light, the ‘Rebel Hearts’ documentary by Pedro Kos recounts their story with a new perspective. A documentary focused on what religion meant for women and all the sexism they had to overcome. It includes interviews with some of the Sisters that participated in the movement, like Sister Corita, bringing to life their work and brave spirit.
The story of these nuns is ultimately a story of feminine resilience and leadership, another good example of women working together for a higher cause, because together we stand.