Five years ago, a major change came to the lives of Sister Mary Eucharista, a member of the Religious Congregation of Mary Immaculate Queen (CMRI), and 14 of her fellow sisters living at Mount St. Michael (“the Mount”) in Spokane, Washington. Bishop Mark Pivarunas, the Superior General of the CMRI organization, told the sisters they had to leave the community if they did not stop promoting “heterodox” views among the other 35 sisters.
But their “heresy” was not the kind American Catholics have seen in some communities of nuns in recent generations. Sister Mary Eucharista and her sisters were asked to leave because they had come to believe that Pope Benedict XVI was indeed the legitimate head of the Roman Catholic Church.
The CMRIs were initially founded in 1967 with approval of Church authorities, but went on to embrace sedevacantism, separating themselves from the Church. As sedevacantists, they do not accept the legitimacy of any of the popes since the close of the Second Vatican Council.
“I feel a deep love and compassion for my former community,” Sister Mary Eucharista, 52, says today. “They will always be special to me. But while I understand them, I can never go back unless they return to full communion with the Church.”