It might be an overwhelming effort for some people, but for Margaret
Connor it was a must. She wanted out. She wanted a new life. She
wanted to be something other than a nun. And it took 13 years to
make the move. Her new book, "Nice to Meet Your Husband, Sister
Martha," tells the story of her life as a nun and how it happened
that she became a farmer's wife in Logan County.
Margaret Connor was born and raised in Joliet. She was in sixth
grade the first time a teacher asked if she wanted to consider being
a nun. By her sophomore year in high school, she was enrolled at
Grailville, a lay-religious rural setting near Cincinnati where
young women went "back to the land," but were also prepared for
apostolic work in the church. When Margaret graduated from high
school in 1953, she was already committed to serving the Catholic
Church and Christ.
Her new name in the convent was Martha, hence the name in the
book's title. She received a college education and eventually
obtained several degrees. She taught and was an administrator at
some of the most difficult high schools in Chicago. In her 40s it
occurred to Margaret that men existed and she "would like to have
In a recent interview, Margaret Connor Peifer described her
realization with a laugh, but it was an honest realization and
response. And she was quick to clarify some misconceptions about
nuns who leave the convent.
"I didn't leave the church. I left my life as a nun, but my
Catholic faith is as strong as it ever was, and the church is still
very important to me," Margaret said. "I just traded my nun's robes
for another outfit, and now I am involved with serving in other
[to top of second column]
Margaret (formerly Sister Martha) Connor moved to Lincoln in
1992, when she was 54. She battled cancer at age 60 and married
local farmer Jack Peifer at age 62. Now in her 70s, Margaret decided
to tell her story.
Not all the memories were easy to tell. Not all the struggles
were easy to overcome. Her direct commentary on the people around
her and circumstances she experienced are honest and to the point.
There are funny recollections and heartwarming stories -- mostly
about family. Margaret doesn't gloss over unpleasant situations,
personal doubts and bare-faced human thoughts.
It's not just a good book for a cold winter's night. It's a good
book with a message of living your life to its fullest, even if it
means turning your world inside out. And that is a lesson for any
[By MARLA BLAIR]