The Top 5 Fucked Up Things Nuns Did at St Augustine Elementary In The ’70’s

In 1973, Sister John Bono, fourth grade teacher, conducted an art project that involved ironing. Not surprisingly, a girl got burned when the iron tipped over and seared her wrist.

Sister John Bono sent the girl to the nun house for first aid. The nun in the nun house put a pat of butter on the burn and then wrapped the girl’s wrist with a dishtowel from the kitchen. The nun held the dishtowel in place with a rubber band she had taken from the morning paper. She didn’t even pick the toast crumbs out of the butter.

It’s possible the nuns washed their towels in holy water and the holy water would have probably given the dishtowels sterility from heaven. If that were the case, though, it seems that the nun would have chosen holy water over butter to soothe the burn.

In 1971, Sister Rupert Weasley caught a girl throwing another girl’s bagged lunch into the St. Vincent DePaul box during recess. The St. Vincent DePaul box was like a Goodwill box, except for Catholic people.

Sister Rupert Weasley, the second scariest nun at St Augustine elementary, took the girl to see the scariest nun at St Augustine, the principal, Sister Christine. Sister Christine told the girl, who was 8 years old, that she ruined all the clothes in the poor people box and that children who would have had winter coats would now freeze to death because of her.

The girl would spend years trying to forgive herself for killing poor kids. To this day, the story “The Little Match Girl” stresses her the fuck out. Who killed the little match girl? She did.

In 1974, Sister Christine summoned a girl to her office and rained the wrath of God on her because the girl’s mother didn’t fill out the proper paperwork for the next school year. Sister Christine told the girl that the girl’s mother was a terrible person who wasted Sister Christine’s time. Sister Christine turned purple she was so upset about the girl’s mother fucking up the paperwork and ruining her life. Sister Christine wore herself out screaming and sent the sobbing girl back to her classroom.

Sister Juan Epstein comforted the girl as best she could, but even though the sister had a guitar and was the coolest nun ever, sister Juan Epstein couldn’t stop the little girl’s mom from sucking and, therefore, was of no comfort. The girl sniffled and hiccuped at her desk as her fifth grade classmates looked on. Most of them clutched rosaries.

In 1975, Sister Mario Hatfield, first grade teacher, yanked a little girl, who had just vomited, from a pew during early morning mass. Sister Mario Hatfield shook the shoulders of the little girl and whisper/yelled at the little girl as she dragged her from the church.

The little girl’s older sister watched helplessly and hoped her younger sister wasn’t going to have to go see Sister Christine. She had no idea what the penance for puking in church was, but it had to be at least as bad as the ”lunch in the Saint Vincent DePaul box” incident.

The fifth fucked up event was perpetrated by a priest, but the nuns were complicit. Students were required to go to confession every other Wednesday. In 1972, a young girl decided to change her sins up a bit as she was certain Father Randall Flagg had grown tired of her normal “I fought with my sisters and lied to my mother” sins. So she said that she stole a pencil from the teacher’s desk. She didn’t actually steal anything, rather she was trying to come up with an original sin.

Confessional is sacred. Confessional is safe. One can bare their soul in confession. One can find atonement in the confessional. Secrets are safe with God and the priest. Unless you were a 9 year old girl at St Augustine elementary in the seventies. The priest charged from his side of the confessional and pulled the girl from the sanctity of the confessional where he sentenced her to writing hundreds of lines and no recess for 2 weeks. The girl briefly considered saying that she made the whole thing up, but was afraid of what the penance would be for lying about sins during confession. The nuns doled out her punishment while keeping an extra watchful eyes on their no. 2 pencils.

Names changed to protect the clergy. Even though God knows what they did. I didn’t change Sister Christine’s name because Sister Christine was a cunt.  


Add your comments below. Profanity is encouraged, but not required. ;)
  1. Catherine says:

    The nuns who taught me were a pretty decent bunch–however one was a lunatic just as bad as the muthaf$cker in the White House.
    I laughed my ass off at this great post!!

  2. Donna says:

    The co-banes of my elementary school life were Sister Joseph Catherine and Sister Louis Mary. They were the nastiest, most obvs in need of therapy nuns of my entire, too long Catholic grade school career.

    I had Sister Nancy in 4rth grade. A nun with a woman’s name! She didn’t wear the big black nun habit either. She wore a plain tweedy jumper. Sister Nancy was kind, approachable, HUMAN. I heard, a couple years later, she’d had a nervous breakdown and left the convent.

    Clearly, she was too nice for that vile crowd.

  3. Eleanor says:

    Deeply afraid that this is not fiction. Awful. Sorry.

  4. mydangblog says:

    I still remember a neighbour telling us that the nuns at his school would take kids to the basement furnace room for punishment and tell them when they went to hell for their sins they would burn in a furnace like that one. Charming. I have my own stories of public school but nothing even close to that.

  5. Stephanie says:

    Nuns teaching classes of 60 kids and running around attending to church tasks, too – my brother never had a chance for the little extra attention he needed. My favorite nun quote: “Boldness, child, that’s just boldness!” Now, I’m kind of glad she had to say it to me.

  6. Cecilia says:

    Hysterical although I’m sure it wasn’t funny at the time. I went to public school but have heard horror stories about nuns at the local catholic school. My ex-husband used to talk about a nun they called Sister Lou Pinella, so I got a kick out of the names 🙂

  7. Lisa K says:

    Oh, Honey. Confessions?
    This piece has a raw edge to it that I’ve never ‘felt’ in your writing before…

    I’ve heard tell of wicked, fucked up nuns, but I was raised Baptist, so, you know…

    It might be sinful how much I laughed at this, but my sympathy for the little girl is genuine and should bring me back into favor!

  8. I’m so glad I grew up a heathen and was never subjected to Catholic school. That was some twisted shit they pulled.

  9. Karen says:

    8th Grade a loooong time ago: Sister gives us a mini lecture on thinking we can do better than God as far as what we were apportioned physically. She then points to Becky S. and Patricia T and says, “Becky and Patricia are wearing FALSIES!” They were sent home, thoroughly humiliated.
    Patricia returns the next day sans enhancements. Two days later, Becky and her mother show up, but don’t come in the room. Sister stands up and says, “Becky S. does not wear falsies.” That’s was it. No apology. Becky and her mother left.
    I usually make this story pretty funny, but, with time, I realize that it is actually very sad. I’m glad I switched and went to public school for my high school years.

  10. Oh the good old days of yardsticks down your uniform shirts and beating by short old ladies. good times.

  11. Diana says:

    I went to Catholic school in urban NJ in the late 50s/early 60s, through third grade. The nuns were mean and had pointer sticks with rubber tips which they would whack across a kid’s bottom or sometimes, with advance notice and public display, a whack across the back of the hand. Classrooms were overcrowded and patience was thin. I was forced to attend catechism (religious training) while attending public school. I do remember the nuns being meaner and less patient as I got older. Two things about nuns: One I heard about them, that they had to be widowed before they could become nuns so that they would have experienced sex and would not stray out of curiosity (never believed that one) and once during a discussion on death, I asked how the undertaker knew the person was actually dead and the nun told me that to make sure, the undertaker had a very long, very sharp needle and would pierce the heart of the body, just to make sure. OMG! Murder! I came from a long line of undertaking families and should have just asked my uncle, but I was a child. No wonder we’re called “recovering catholics.”

  12. Welcome back.
    And thank you for reminding me my sister was a nun until she found out what “none” meant.
    Yeah, that joke is only funny said out loud.
    And also I’m so glad I went to public schools where, in my experience, the only people capable of such fucked-up behavior were band leaders, and I was never in the band.

    • Michelle says:

      Hahahah..none. And thank you. I’m kind of back. I actually wrote this for a different outlet but they turned it here I am. Still getting a handle on life.

  13. Dara says:

    My name is pronounced like Sarah, with a D. In 1st grade, Sister Delores said the correct way to say my name sounded like Maura, with a D. She said my parents were pronouncing my name wrong! At 6 years old I would make myself throw up at night so I didn’t have to go back to school. I hated my name for years. So I do go back, and because I played outside all summer before school started I wasn’t real good at “arithmetic”. Sister Delores Put this huge abacus on my desk. Very humiliating. Between Sister Delores and that bitch from Romper Room, who never saw me sitting with my sisters,Denise, Diane, Debbie and Dawn, it’s a wonder I’m as normal as I think I am!
    Happy Mother’s Day!!

  14. Cindy H says:

    Holy Cow.
    Gosh, I didn’t find any of this funny. I thought it was eye-opening, and so very, very sad. Michelle, you either experienced these things or knew the girls who did.

    In Seattle in the ’40s, my Mom lived with a girl who became a Carmelite nun.
    Sister Jean Michael Marie. We went to visit her in the ’50s and give her cookies when I was about 5ish at Christmas. It was a huge, really dark and scary place, because I guess the electricity was too much. We had to put the cookies on a lazy susan type cupboard in a wall, and another nun was on the other side blessing us when it turned to face her. We couldn’t see her or anyone. Mom told me her friend Jean HAD to share with everyone. I remember being so angry that she HAD to share, and that we couldn’t even SEE her. How did we even know she was getting ANY of the cookies. We didn’t even know how many nuns were back there!!

    I always wondered through the years why Jean became a nun. Mom said she was always so full of life and energy. I believe she must have been one of the good ones.

    Imagine if this is your story from those years and that particular school, how many situations like this happened through the years in so many other places. Heart breaking.

    Now I’m gonna go read the comics in today’s Calgary Herald. Cheer myself up.

  15. Billie says:

    Jesus Christ what a load of complete cunts.
    Maybe you can comfort yourself, dear one, that they have, since the cursed 70s, all passed away, maybe to be reincarnated as warts on Satan’s penis.

  16. Shani says:

    Wow. Just wow. you explained so much with humor and yet honesty. I am hoping people have much better experiences now.

    Let’s see–A anun smacked me on the butt for talking to male friend of mine who went to the all boys school across the gate. To this day I don’t know if I got smacked for talking to a boy on off hours (the boys and girls schools combined after school for those of us with working parents) or if I got smacked for standing on the bench to talk to him.

    I told my folks about it. I don’t know what they did but the rest of my time was nun discipline free (but I was an annoyingly good kid so really why were they picking on me anyway).

    Name not mentioned because I blocked it from memory.

  17. catsmeow says:

    Sister Lucy (known to us as Sister Lucifer) pulled me aside as I was headed to the parking lot from her third grade class for the day. She told me that she hadn’t seen my parents at church on Sunday for quite awhile. She asked me if I knew they were going to hell. I burst into tears, ran out to my mom who was waiting for me in the car (she couldn’t walk in because she was wearing pants!) and she marched right back in and, I can only assume, gave Sister Lucifer a piece of her mind.

    I can hazard a guess as to which one of them is in hell right now.

  18. emelle says:

    I guess I’m blessed to have grown up Southern Baptist in public schools. My only Catholic experiences were weddings. Never met a nun in person, I don’t think. Have worn a habit for television, though.

  19. I prefer to call myself a “lapsed” Catholic. Luckily, because both of my parents went to Catholic schools, they bought a house in a good public school district and spared us that (although we did have CCD on the weekends).

    One of the many nasty stories my dad told about going to school in the 40s/50s had to do with an extremely harsh punishment. Like me, my dad is short (he’s 5’6″ as an adult and was always the runt of the class). Being short meant being bullied. Dad was taught how to defend himself and not get his ass continuously kicked. One day, a bully decided to go after Dad and it ended up in a fight.

    The nuns liked to run discipline military-style. It didn’t matter who started it, or if you were defending yourself, both fighters were punished. My dad’s punishment was to stay after school and clean the church’s chicken coops. This was back in the day when you had one change of clothes for school.

    My dad returned home covered in dust, crap and feathers. His dad, who often did favors for the church, like driving the nuns and priests around, was furious. He loaded my dad (still covered in crap), into his car and stormed into Sister Perpetua’s office. He told her that under no circumstances was his son to be cleaning out chicken coops and if there was a problem, to contact him. Fortunately, A.J. had enough clout to shut that shit right down.

    I suspected that many nuns and sisters were on the level of those volunteering for military service today. From the turn of the century, they came from poorer families and saw an opportunity for a different life. After all, even with a vow of poverty, the church would provide for your welfare and with work (in the case of sisters) or a life of prayer and devotion (for nuns who had taken their solemn vows). That may have appeared much more attractive than what would become of them in their secular communities. There have always been educated women, dedicated to education and medicine, and today, many orders are far more progressive. But those hold-overs were often dogmatic and ignorant.

    I have complicated feelings about the Catholic Church’s charitable works. One of the most successful homeless shelters and transitional women’s programs in Los Angeles (the Union and San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission) is run by Catholic charities. I can’t get behind a lot of Church doctrine, but I hold out hope for those motivated by good works. We can all use more of that.

    • Michelle says:

      OH wow…that is a great and terrible story! My dad told me stories about being punched in the face by priests when he was in high school..but honestly, knowing my dad, he probably had it coming.

  20. Haralee says:

    These stories are similar to ones I heard as a kid growing up in very Catholic Boston. My public Hi School exploded after several of the Catholic schools went co-ed. Many parents felt why pay when there are boys and girls together. The kids from these schools went mental with the freedom of the public school system and they were a rowdy, fun bunch!
    My husband and his brother said they always made up sins in confession. When his sister heard that, about 5 years ago, she became outraged and righteous that their souls would burn in hell. That made the 2 of them laugh their heads off!

  21. Doug in Oakland says:

    I went to public schools, but many of my friends in Eureka went to Catholic schools. There were more than one (Sacred Heart and St. Bernard’s are the two I remember) so there must have been a lot of Catholics up there. My friends and I didn’t talk about it much.
    My friend Dirty Dan grew up in Cuba and went to strict Catholic schools where the nuns would hit the back of your hand with a ruler and stuff like that. His dad heard about some atrocity or other they had pulled and went down there to remedy the situation. According to Dan, after a loud behind-closed-doors confrontation that ended with abrupt silence, his dad stormed up to the headmaster and informed him “I just cold-cocked one of your penguins.” Dan was no-one to mess with, and apparently neither was his father.
    I hope you’re feeling better and things are getting back to an even keel for you, and it’s good to hear from you again. I’ve been concerned about you.

  22. Arionis says:

    Wow! Glad I did not go to a catholic school. However, I am the son of a southern preacher man, and you know what they say about preacher’s kids…

  23. Spiked Lee says:

    I laugh-cried for little girl, but I’m glad she turned in to you!
    I’m not Catholic, but did grow up in a pretty seriously other fucked up religion. I rejected that mess.
    When I was in my 40s, my mom died. I got a bunch of sympathy cards, as expected, including a bunch from people from her church who had known me as a little girl. It seemed kind of nice that they still remembered me. Then I got one from someone I knew my mom went to lunch with weekly. B, instead of sending a sympathy card, sent a note explaining that I had broken my mother’s heart, and that, having rejected that religion, that I would never see my mother again, my mother would be in heaven and be FOREVER in pain because she got to heaven and would have to watch me get tormented in hell.
    ‘Cause telling someone who is grieving that she has sentenced her mother to a eternity of pain is a comforting thing to do.
    That is some fucked-up shit.
    I have my outfit picked out for my trip to hell. and an extra pair of rubber shoes packed to bring with.

    Hugs to you and the family.

    • Michelle says:

      WHAT A HORRIBLE PERSON. OMG I kind of want to punch her on your behalf. And thank you for the hugs, we’ll gladly take them 🙂

    • emelle says:

      I thought there were no TEARS (or pain) in Heaven. Meaning, you live and learn; you die and forget it all (unless you go to Hell, of course)…

      so basically, that bitch was saying that even though your Mom deserved to go to Heaven, your actions had sentenced her to Hell. That’s just fucked-up. That bitch won’t ever see your Mom again, that’s For Sure.

  24. KK says:

    My school experience was horrid but pales into insignificance when reading this. No child should be treated like that.
    Glad you survived it as well as you have.

  25. Fiona says:

    I’m so sorry little you had to go through that. Hug her from me. I’m so glad and impressed that she had the strength to turn into big you, helping us all with your truth telling. Pat yourself on the back!

  26. Amy says:

    Didn’t have any bad experiences with any nuns, but the visiting priest was a little too touchy for any of us girls’ liking.

  27. Aidan says:

    Wow, what the FUCK is up with Catholic schools? Jeez.

    And, yea, Sister Christine sounds like a cunt.

  28. Fallconskat says:

    My ex in laws sent my daughter to Catholic school in second grade. She’d been raised loosely Baptist, so didn’t have the whole dunk-the-fingers-cross-yourself thing down. Plus, she’s ornery and was pissed if that she was in more “counseling” and “support group” sessions than actual CLASS time. (Seriously. That former MIL is a wackadoodle. Or fucking cunt, take your pick.)

    So, kiddo forgot. Again. On Friday church day, there in front of god and everybody. Her teachernun flicked holy water on her, while scolding her…

    And Miss “I’d rather be in a real damn school” immediately started wailing “I’M MELTING, I’M MELTING!” while sinking to the floor. She was called Satan the rest of the school year, and the head penguin asked that she NOT be re-enrolled for the next year. She’s been lovingly called Miss Satan ever since.

  29. Me says:

    OMG – all I can say is I”m so happy I didn’t go to school at a convent. You have to wonder what they were thinking God meant when he said – Love one another. Or maybe they didn’t think he actually meant they should love one another, it was just every one else who should.

  30. Liv says:

    Wow. You puked in church?

    • Michelle says: My little sister did.

    • MS says:

      I threw up in church A LOT, I was a sickly kid and they wouldn’t let me sit down when I was queasy. So, I got in trouble if I tried to sit down when I felt sick and I got in trouble when I vomited. Finally, I told my great-aunt. The next day during mass when I started to stand, I felt a hand on my shoulder pushing me down and turned to see her behind me. When Sister Mary Child Abuse started to lean in to yell at me to stand up, she caught my great-aunt’s eye. Great-Aunt Marg was a stereotypical large, intimidating German woman. And she had no tolerance for nonsense. The nun turned her attention back to the front and my great-aunt came to church every day that week to make sure I was sitting. After that, they let me sit when I felt sick. I really miss her (Great-Aunt Marg, not the nun)

      I guess I was lucky they didn’t try to exorcise me since I couldn’t seem to go into church without tossing my cookies.

      • Michelle says:

        OMG I did NOT know this story! This is the best story ever. Aunt Marg FTW!!! Man…she was awesome. Sister Mary Child Abuse…that’s the best thing ever.

  31. Joan H. says:

    Wow!!! I feel absolutely horrible for all of you who had to endure these things! I have heard about people complaining about being raised Catholic here and calling themselves “recovering Catholics” and I never understood until now. I went to Catholic school in Holland and then again in Germany, and ALL of the nuns were absolute sweethearts! I’m serious! I feel very fortunate!

  32. Debbie says:

    Hey Michelle, I went to catholic school from Kindergarten and my senior year of high school except for my first 3 years of high school because we moved. I can say I had a great experience with the nuns I was involved with. I sent my two sons to catholic school for their 13 years of schooling and unfortunately each of them only had one nun in grade school because there weren’t any nuns signing on. It’s a shame that so many people have such awful memories of the Catholic Church but I’m learning it’s well deserved. I just finished watchin The Keepers on Netflix and was so disturbed by these fuckers who say they are working for the Lord. Castrate the lot of these assholes. Nothing but predators and con men, and my uncle was a priest. Jesus H. Christ.