Who are these Sisters and what do they do?
The Portland Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, The Order of Benevolent Bliss, is a fully professed house of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. As a 501(C)3 public charitable organization, we are dedicated to the support, education, and development of the LGBT community. The Order was founded June 18, 2005 at the beginning of Portland’s Pride weekend. With the help of our Sisters from The Abbey of St. Joan in Seattle, Portland was introduced to the Sisters during that weekend celebration.
The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence came into existence Easter weekend in 1979. Four men dressed in full traditional nun habits went out into the San Francisco community and began what has become the Sister’s mission. The Sisters are an Order of 21st Century nuns dedicated to the promulgation of universal joy and the expiation of stigmatic guilt. Our ministry is one of public manifestation and habitual perpetration. Since 1979 many have heeded the calling and there are now hundreds of Sisters, manifesting in countries all around the world. Some people say we are mocking nuns. We don’t mock them, we honor them. We are the nuns of the gay community. We take our vows very seriously and, like our counterparts, we strive to educate, care for the sick, and help others through charitable acts and fundraising. The Portland Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are dedicated to continuing the work started by those 4 Sisters 30 years ago. The name of our House reflects our desire to help our community through charitable acts, community outreach, and education; doing so in a fashion that promulgates universal joy.
The Sisters Love a Party!
Part of the Order’s mission is to help other charitable organizations raise money. The Sisters help put the FUN back in fundraising. If your organization would like the Sisters to help out, just download and fill out the Event Request Form then email it back to us at firstname.lastname@example.org at least one month before your event.
What does it take?
Becoming a Fully Professed Member of the Portland Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence is a process that takes a minimum of a year to complete. There are four stages to a Fully Professed Member’s journey. Even after going through the process, a Sister or Guard continues to learn from their community, and from their fellow members every time they manifest.
The first step is to get to know us. You’ll need to talk with the Mistress of Novices and let her know you’re interested in starting your journey. She’ll assess your motivations for wishing to join the Order and will determine if you will be a good fit. Remember, desire isn’t enough to be a Sister of Guard and there are lots of valid ways of serving your community. This may… or may not be the path for you. Becoming an Aspirant is just the beginning of the journey. This is a period to give you an idea of the time, energy, and commitment being a Sister or Guard requires, and for you to look inside and see if you feel the calling.
When you become a Postulant, the fun really starts! The Postulant’s task is to learn about the Sisters and The Order. Postulants wear a black robe and grey veil, as well as the signature white face makeup. While Postulants do not put any makeup on their lips, they are encouraged be creative in how they apply makeup to their eyes, representing that at this phase of their membership journey that rather than lots of talking and speaking they are focusing on watching and learning. Postulants have two Big Sisters (Sponsors) who help guide and train them during this part of their journey.
There is a visible change between the Postulant and the Novice. Gone is the grey veil. Novice Sisters wear a black robe with a white bib, scapular, and veil. The white veil signifies the Sister is still in training. While Postulants had two Sponsors referred to as Big Sisters, Novice Sisters have one Sponsor referred to as her Mother, who she works more closely with as she gets closer to completing her journey towards being a Fully Professed Member. Novice Sisters also start putting makeup on their lips to represent that they are learning to interact more and more with the community.
Novice Guards have a very similar process. The role of Guards within the Portland Sisters is to act as escorts and guardians. A Novice Guard will dress in all black and wear full white face makeup, often adding just one color as a highlight, and like a Novice Sister, will have a Mother who guides them on their journey of membership.
When the time is right, both the Novice Sister and the Novice Guard will take everything they have learned so far and, with the help of their Mother and the rest of the Order, plan, organize, and execute a Novice Project. This is usually the culmination of their journey and often completed just prior to their elevation as a Fully Professed Member.
Fully Professed Member
A Fully Professed Member is a full member of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Fully Professed Sisters dress in whatever way her imagination can dream up. FP Sisters are called “Black Veils” because, while Sisters can wear any color veil they wish, they are gifted with a black veil when they are first elevated to become a Fully Professed Member. Fully Professed Sisters and Guards take public vows to promulgate universal joy and expiate stigmatic guilt. We are here to remind you that you are not defined by the labels that others place on you, but you are loved, and worth loving, just the way you are. Period. Full stop. No exceptions. There are lots of different ways to be a Sister or Guard, and every Sister and Guard has their own calling and ministry, but those common vows to promulgate joy and expiate stigmatic guilt unite us.
If you think you might share that calling and want to explore this journey with us, feel free to reach out to our Mistress of Novices. We’d love to hear from you!