Small towns don’t necessarily have small stories.
More than two decades ago, Sister Mary Lou Liptak became parish life director at St. Lucy/St. Bernadette Church in Altamont. She was one of the first to take the position after it was created by the Albany Diocese.
A woman in a leadership position didn't sit well with everyone who attended the church. But it made for a really unique situation.
“It’s a pretty revolutionary story when looking at the Catholic Church,” said Nick Viscio, a filmmaker from Altamont.
It’s also a story that Viscio and his wife, Marie, have been working to tell for the past few years. Finally, on Friday, they’ll be showing the fruits of their labor with a screening of “A Calling” at Proctors.
The film follows the story not only of Sister Liptak, but of the changing views on women and their role in the church. It’s told through interviews with Liptak and members of the church.
“I’m blown away that people are shocked that we have a woman who is a spiritual leader,” Borden said. It’s important to have a good faith leader regardless of whether or not they are male or female, said Borden.
That ideal doesn’t necessarily reflect the Vatican's policies. Yet Viscio said the film is in no way an anti-Vatican policy film.
“It’s counter-image to how the world views the Catholic Church. It’s not as dug in [as people think]. These changes are happening,” Viscio said.
Although Pope Francis has said time and again that women will never be allowed to be priests, he has also said he would like to see women’s roles in the church expanded. But many say the sentiment has remained just that: a sentiment, a hope without a plan.
Having Sister Liptak as parish life director has changed the attitudes of many in the church.
At first “It didn’t sit well with everybody,” Viscio said. But as time passed, that feeling seemed to dissipate, and most came to see her leadership as just that: faith leadership.
“It’s all my daughter has known,” Borden said.
Her daughter, who is now in her teens, grew up with a female faith leader, which Borden said is unique for a small-town Catholic church.