The Turning: The Sisters Who Left


Thousands of women gave up everything to follow Mother Teresa, joining her storied Catholic order, the Missionaries of Charity. But some found that life inside this fiercely private religious order was not what they’d imagined. Former sisters who worked closely with Mother Teresa describe her bold vision and devotion to charity and prayer. But they also share stories of suffering and forbidden love, abuse and betrayal. If you make a lifelong vow, what does it mean to break it? What is the line between devotion and brainwashing? Can you truly give yourself to God?

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Recent Reviews
  • Podlistener1618
    So well done and a fascinating story. Well done, ladies!
  • tzippiminda
    Beautiful, powerful, especially if you’ve left
    When I say “left,” I mean any religious or intensely spiritual group experience. Having left the faith I was raised with and dealt with the damaging aspects of what it meant to serve God in a certain way or be alone and in a despair of the soul, I was greatly moved by this whole podcast. I’m sure those who don’t like it feel a certain level of attack. That attack comes from not being taught criticism of the Avenue by which we reach God is not ok. But criticism and truth are of God, too. I thank the creators and contributors for sharing those gifts.
  • 82#ww))
    Even in their horrific retelling of abuse, these women resonate Grace and faith; that even though the Church failed them, their faith in goodness and kindness and forgiveness remains.
  • Family shared - Nik
    Riveting and well done!
    Heard about this first on Snap Judgement; one episode and I was fascinated. The team does a great job of letting the story come through those who experienced it rather than injecting themselves, which I find potent. Production work is excellent.
  • Madjbail
    So good!
    I heard about this podcast via Juicy Scoop (they didn’t mention the name but said it was really good). This is so fascinating and so well done! I’m hooked
  • OHBtyFlyC
    Editing issues
    Story jumps around a lot, some issues with ads and editing, noticeable audio changes, repeating portions.
  • Clay_Bird
    A Must-Listen
    This is one of the most intriguing, enjoyable podcasts I’ve listened to in some time. As I was raised Catholic, this was an incredible story to hear and believe. I am recommending this to anyone with an interest in religion, Catholicism, psychology, sociology and cults.
  • PeachySpeechy
    Very interesting
    This was very informative and entertaining. It wasn’t a bashing and I felt it was very tastefully done
  • ldnq
    Poorly matched advertisements
    The interviews and pace are great. But OMG the ads are terrible. Poorly placed. LOUD and obnoxious styles. Not a March for the subject and style of podcast. It almost ruins it.
  • daffydil1234
    Brilliant & Compelling
    I knew nothing of Mother Teresa’s order going into this, and learned so much from the brave women who told their stories.
  • awc and sec mom
    Complex and compelling.
    Outstanding job on this podcast which illuminates the complex reasons for committing to this life of service as well as the equally complex reasons for leaving it. Karen Armstrong, religious scholar and former nun, wrote two books detailing her experience in the convent which was very similar to the ones described in this podcast. She also wrote about the difficulty of leaving and trying to figure out a self and identity when she hadn’t been allowed to have independent and critical thinking for so long. Congratulations on this well researched, nuanced, emotionally compelling set of interviews and commentary!
  • jwilkinson171
    Couldn’t stop listening
    I binged-listened to this! Captivating. Intelligent. Informative. Outstanding. The best podcast series I’ve ever listened to. The production was fantastic and the story so interesting. Wish there were more!
  • Max Salmeron
    Mixed emotions but well done…
    My great aunt, whom I had a very close relationship with, was a nun in the order of the Felician sisters. Her name was Sister Bernardia but I called her Sister B. Her order was nothing like Mother Teresa’s order and I have very fond memories of spending time with her and her fellow sisters at the convent. She was fun and full of love. Whenever she visited, which was about once or twice a year, she would often stay with me. She loved to be in the kitchen with me when I cooked and would always write down recipes and take them back to the sisters. She loved watching football, whether it was the Cowboys or the Longhorns and would have a beer and cheer and boo along with everyone else. What I remember most was her absolute devotion to Jesus. She loved Jesus so much. It was a joyful love. She told me once that she knew she wanted to be a nun when she was little and felt as though she was chosen in the same way you would pick a flower from a field of thousands of them. She felt special that she was chosen to live this life. Whenever I was with her I felt an enormous amount of peace. She would always be there if I needed somebody to talk to about my own faith. She never shamed me but always listened and gave advice. She was like a close friend, the best kind. After she passed away, a month or so after, I had a very lucid dream where she appeared to me in my grandmother’s home. I remember distinctly thinking, I am not dreaming. She is here. This is real. She was not in her habit (garment worn my nuns). I remember her being in a baby blue blouse. She was radiant with so much love and happiness — you could see it in her face and feel it. I’ve never had a dream like that in my life. It has been years since she was in my dreams and I’ve missed her so much. I started listening to this podcast about two weeks ago. It has been fascinating. It is so well done. Today, I finally listened to the very last episode. I was disappointed to hear that Mary became an atheist. I struggle often with my faith and always love to hear stories from other people where they have a breakthrough in their doubt. But last night, I dreamt of my aunt again. It wasn’t like the lucid dream I had experienced though, it was just her appearing in my dream. I remember waking up this morning and thinking, wow, Sister B was in my dream last night and it’s been ages since that has happened. So today when I listened to the last episode and heard that Mary was an atheist, it made me sit and think. It made me think of my aunt and then it made me think of my dream. Probably just a coincidence? Maybe. But it’s also like a reminder — like, hey, I am sorry you were disappointed in hearing the end of Mary’s tale and heard she became an atheist, but I am still here. This is what I thought and this is why I am sitting here writing this long essay that nobody will probably ever read. I just wanted to put it out there. I hope it touches the right person.
  • martin artifex
    A window into a hidden life
    An excellent production describing the aspirations of the young and the humanity of those trying to live under a rule that is very difficult. Some of the interviews were very hard to listen to. It is unhealthy to think God would be pleased by suffering that is self inflicted. I have lived in a community for 50 years….. one need not look for extra suffering. The writers did excellent work!
  • Evelina L
    I loved the series. Binged it in a few days.
    I’m not religious at all, but over the last few years I’ve repeatedly heard people question Mother Teresa’s legacy… So when I heard about this show I was intrigued. Beautiful work, beautiful stories. So much love and respect throughout the interviews and narration. The only perspective I missed was that of those in the sisters’ care… Why did you chose to omit that perspective? Nevertheless, this is an absolute must listen! ❤️
  • Kyoostar1
    Phenomenal podcast
    I loved everything about this podcast. I was in a Catholic convent for a few years. I want to start all over again and listen to the whole thing a second time. Professionally presented, well researched, well spoken, and the interviews were wonderful. Very thought provoking. I’m going to buy the book by Mary Johnson. The only thing I have to complain about is the commercials. Not so much that you have them, most do, but yours in particular are so loud and harsh and meaningless. For such a quiet, thoughtful podcast, it’s shocking for these loud obnoxious commercials to suddenly assault us. On some other podcasts the host speaks the commercial themselves, advertising online counseling, healthy eating food services, some try to find out about the interests of their audience. Just a suggestion. I hope you let us know if you do another podcast.
  • CharlieDurango
    Mind blowing
    Me: a podcast about nuns, no way, yawn. Me after this: OMG that was one of the most fascinating stories about religion and humanity I have ever heard. Fantastically well executed, somehow even keeled, and well-researched. I highly recommend this for anyone interested in spirituality, humans, organizations, or really anything.
  • Cheetah101
    A fantastic listen
    I listen to a lot of podcasts, and am constantly driving for my job. This is one you don’t want to miss out on. If you love investigative journalism with thoughtful storylines, in-depth research, compassionate reporting, and immersive sound design, this one’s for you! 5 stars for everything!
  • sav.18
    This story was mind blowing!!! Hurts to think of such selfless women going through unnecessary pain💗 lovely voices to listen to when walking an delivering mail
  • music store owner
    Interesting and thought provoking!
    This is a very well done podcast that gives a Birdseye view into the Missionaries of Charity organization, founded by Mother Teresa. Whether or not you are Catholic, There’s lots to unpack and learn here! I felt it was very balanced and fair to all parties…. Great job!
  • LittleYeti4789
    One of the best
    I feel like I get used to sub-par podcasts these days, but this series came to show me what amazing, long-form story telling can sound like. A subject that I wouldn't normally choose, religion and the sort, but it shone light on depths of the human experience that few have familiarity with. Very well done.
  • Jay6719
  • FMangoes
    Fascinating and beautifully told
    One of my favorite podcasts ever. Told with compassion and without sensationalism.
  • Bw410
    Compelling and thoughtful
    Tough subject was carefully navigated. Each woman was able to relay their own experiences of being with the MC. Not at all a malicious takedown that we’ve come to expect these days. These women have hearts for service and community. Great listen. Have recommended to many.
  • lindy luvs music
    Intriguing story!
    This was an honest & well told story. Everyone that shared their experiences were so brave & inspirational. Great podcast!
  • Chicadeenuthatch
    the Turning, a must-listen pod.
    I found this pod via Snap Judgment. I binged it. It’s so well done! Fantastic journalism with a compelling tale of a seemingly benign and helpful institution gone appallingly awry. Woe, intrigue and cover up leave thousands of young women prey to an invidious cult veiled as love and giving for the poor. Instead, young women are tricked into a life of abuse, neglect, deprivation, mind control and sexual assault. Three cheers for the brave women like Mary Johnson, Charlotte and Kelli, who tell their tales. Where does the millions of dollars go that MC rakes in? Not to the nuns or the poor they serve. The Catholic Church must reckon with this disaster immediately instead of facilitating this rampant abuse and neglect.
  • Nifter86
    Amazing podcast- very well done
    One of the best podcasts I’ve heard in a long time! I’m in tears and keep saying wow - wow - wow! No human should EVER be worshiped and looked to as the voice of God that is not love! The ending by the host was superb!!!
  • BowChicaWowWow ~
    I just finished listening and I am still processing everything I’ve heard. This podcast literally has made me laugh, cry, and made my chest hurt. What is virtue? What does it mean to live a virtuous life? IF you believe in a God, how should/can you define what it means to serve him in the “best” or purest way? What is love? Where is the line between virtue and ugliness? Is it ever possible for an institution to exist and stay stay true to its initial intention? Where’s the boundary between selflessness and selfishness? Do I hate Mother Teresa? Do I pity her? Should I praise her? How important is virtue vs autonomy? I’m going to be thinking about this for a very, very, very long time. I’ll probably listen multiple times. I’m mind blown.
  • missD23
    Thought provoking and insightful
    Really interesting. Reminder that we are all human.
  • Twyla16
    one of the best
    I listen to a lot of podcasts and this is honestly one of the best I have ever heard. The story is told in such a compelling and compassionate way, with careful attention to all of the nuances. The complexities of the order and the vocation become a hologram for so many vital issues and questions. I can’t recommend this highly enough.
  • Dab McTi Nail
    Fascinating and heartfelt
    This is amazing storytelling at its best. I just finished this and I was sad for it to end. Growing up catholic I saw Mother Theresa as a saint and example of someone who selflessly does good works for mankind. Now I see her as she was- a flawed human being. Thank you to Mary Johnson and the others for telling their stories. I was moved and truly touched.
  • VAmar88
    One of the best podcasts I’ve listened to. Every episode was thought-provoking. I really respect the honesty of the interviewees and the host’s intelligent narration style.
  • Abooboo_125679
    Very very good
    Very Interesting stories and growing up catholic i was very interested to hear what the life was like. Very good listen I recommend to anyone and everyone !
  • sparks-funk
    Honest truth
    Sincerely appreciate the work behind this podcast and the openness of the former sisters/courageous women. So much honesty and openness. Blown away by their strength.
  • LizJ08
    I have grown up as a Pentecost Christian and have always been curious about Catholics and how things are done with nuns and priests. This showed me what a certain branch of the Catholics did and how they lived. It was raw, it was truth, it was love. Each and every single one of these women went in with the purest hearts to do good for the Lord and horrible things happened to them and I’m so happy that they got out and pursued there dreams. Please make more podcasts because you did an amazing job!!
  • max21212121
    So Beautiful
    This podcast told such a complex story so beautifully.
  • Railraen
    Something worth talking about
    Such a human story told in such a careful way. I feel changed for the better by having listened to it.
  • changagarcia
    Too real.
    As an ex-Catholic, listening to this made me reflect on how suffering is seen as a virtue. It is so damaging and harmful this “virtue” has kept women trapped in cycles of abuse.
  • KathyRuzsa
    As a former religious sister myself, I was able to relate to some of the things these women went through. Thank God I did not go through the abuse that some of these women endured. I can’t imagine. It made me sad to hear that they lost their belief in Gos because of their experiences. It did not surprise me, just saddened me. I genuinely hope these women continue to find healing and true peace again. It also made me view Mother Teresa in a whole new light. Did she suffer from depression all her life? Did she simply form a religious order based on her own spirituality? It has left me wondering.
  • SamanthaRae_of_light
    Thank you so much for this. As a recovering Catholic, I’m finding the experience very cathartic. It gives me hope.
  • Iamjillcook
    Such a thorough, fascinating story of the members of the Missionaries of Charity. Really tells more of the story of something we all “think” we know… but we truly have no idea. I hope there’s much more to come.
  • NYCLis
    Truly fascinating stories from the women who joined and then left the MCs. I appreciate the candor and honesty of these individuals. Now I can’t wait to read Mary Johnson’s book! Great job interviewing: I appreciate asking good questions but then letting people answer uninterrupted. I can’t wait for each new episode, and I’ll miss it when it inevitably ends.
  • drsally
    Incredibly well reported, entertaining and BEYOND thought provoking. So many insights in this podcast. Brave folks willing to speak. An impressive piece of audio-documentary work.
  • laurkim89
    An amazing pod that covers a subject many are afraid to discuss. Taking on a cult within the Catholic Church and one begun by someone they’ve deemed a “saint” is an act of bravery I can’t even imagine. This is heartbreaking and hopeful all at once.
  • Love snowboard game
    Fascinating & heartbreaking
    I am fascinated by this podcast and these women’s stories. So brave to bear your hearts and share your experiences with us. Love to all of you!
  • 27great68
    Is this unique?
    I knew Mother Teresa for years and kept an ongoing correspondence with her. I think what is difficult is that while the things said in this podcast may be true, there is a language and culture of Catholic religious life. The MC’s are not very unique. Religious in other Orders are in the very same situation. There are support groups for former sisters of different congregations. So many people don’t understand that she passed a great deal she received in her own formation from the Sisters of Loreto in the early part of the twentieth century. Much has changed since Vatican two but not in all religious orders. What is most unusual is that the more conservative and rigorous orders have the most vocations. I think your project could be expanded to see the same patterns in other religious orders too. I think your “cult expert” was not convincing. As for not leaving, it is the same for married people, they too are counseled to stay married. My heart and prayers go out to every sister. Not a former sister they still are sisters to everyone.
  • ValkaSalka
    Fantastic podcast
    Phenomenal podcast on an under reported topic. Especially impressed to see the partnership with Type Investigations and reporter Kathryn Joyce in episode 7! Can’t wait to hear the rest of the episodes.
  • ohhughes
    So good
    This podcast is amazing and heartbreaking. Officially obsessed with it and wait every weekday for a new episode.
  • ms.Yae
    Love this series!!
    These stories are so well told and I was hooked the first episode! Highly recommend!
  • Tina11285
    I am obsessed with this series! Anxiously await every Tuesday!
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