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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

No time to party as girls join convent nuns

The Daughters of Divine Charity in Swaffham are set to feature in a new high-profile four-part TV documentary on Channel 5 entitled Bad Habits, Holy Orders when five self-confessed ‘party girls’ are sent to live at their Norfolk convent for two weeks.

The documentary is reported to be the first time in a decade in which programme-makers have been allowed to film inside a Catholic convent.

During their stay, the five girls gave up their smartphones, alcohol and make-up and helped the sisters with their community outreach duties.

Sr Francis Ridler from the convent, who is also headteacher at the associated Sacred Heart School, said: “It is all about five girls who are not satisfied with their lifestyle, drinking, spending too much on make-up and the good life, as it were.

“The girls were told they were going on a spiritual journey, but were unaware of where this journey would be to. They were brought to Swaffham one by one and when they found out it was a convent they were very surprised.

“We tried to involve them in the life of the convent, in our prayers and community activities. It is a very down-to-earth film and although there were some scary moments, we feel it is an honest portrayal and good for the Church,” Sr Francis said.

“When one of them went out and brought a bottle of vodka back – we told them it was not appropriate and after discussing it with us they took the vodka and poured it down the sink,” the sister revealed. “I was as concerned about the waste as about them bringing the vodka back, which surprised the girls.

“I am happy with the film as entertainment and we think it will bring the lives of the sisters into people’s homes and help them to understand better what we do and are all about,” she added. “I think it is edited for an audience that is not used to religion and spirituality.

“I can honestly say we felt we made a difference to their lives.”

Series producer Elaine Hackett said: “It is a real privilege to be granted access to a convent and to nuns who were willing to share their world.”

Channel 5 factual commissioning editor Guy Davies said: “It’s not a finger wagging exercise at young millennial women. Bad Habits is a really popular and entertaining way of asking some serious questions about how we live our lives.”

Bad Habits, Holy Orders starts on Thursday, 19th October at 10pm on Channel 5.

You can see the sisters talk about the programme on the One Show on BBC One at 6.15pm on Wednesday, 18th October and on ITV’s This Morning at 10am on Thursday, 19th October.

The sisters will be running a free pop-up restaurant in Shoreditch in London on 18th and 19th October, called Nundos.

Picture: The five self-confessed ‘party girls’ with the Daughters of Divine Charity.
Photo courtesy Channel 5.