Mary Ann Collins, is she a former nun? Does she even exist?

Naturally, there is a certain going and coming between Catholics and Protestants. The door swings both ways. The remarkable thing is that there are actually so few former priests and nuns who have crossed the aisle.

Mary Ann Collins' biography is interesting. The story goes that she was a protestant who fell in love with a Catholic guy in college, she apparently converted, then her boyfriend moved away, she continued to go to Mass, studied with a priest, went into the convent for a couple of years, got kicked out, and then joined the Methodist denomination of her parents. Now she says she is an ex-nun and has a web testimony that has made the rounds of Evangelical apologetics sites. There are a few things that seem odd in her testimony:

  • "She" says she was baptized Catholic after a couple of years of going to mass and studying the Catholic faith. If she was a former Protestant, she would have been baptized in that denomination, in which case you can't be baptised again. The Catholic Church recognizes the validity of a baptism in another denomination.
  • Studied Catholicism under a "conservative" priest for several years before her "baptism into the Catholic" faith, yet she doesn't seem to understand this basic tenet (above) of Catholicism. What is even more surprising is that this "conservative priest" she mentions in her story didn't know it either.
  • Went to a parish that had a liberal priest. Her story goes "One Christmas, at Midnight Mass, the priest taught that the Christmas story as presented in the Bible is basically a pious fairy tale to make people feel good, but it has nothing to do with reality." No doubt every denomination has its share of flaky liberal clergy... but in 22 years going to Catholic churches I've never heard that.
  • You can't become a nun in 2 years. It requires several months of live in, a year of novitiate, and another two years before final vows.
  • She says she never made her vows, but claims that Catholic Encyclopedia says that if you wore a habit you are a Nun... uhhh... actually that line in the Encyclopedia refers to nuns in the 9th century. There is not one Catholic today that would call themselves a nun before making final vows.
  • Why would someone who claims to have been on a search for the Truth about Jesus, be so careless with the truth about their personal life, and misrepresent herself as a nun to gain credibility?
  • What is more interesting is that no one has ever claimed to have met Mary Ann Collins.
  • It has never been known which order she "joined".
  • No comments have ever been documented from any religious order about her existence.
  • No announcements about personal appearances such as book presentations in churches, interviews or talks. There are no photos of her. She says "I no longer get involved in doctrinal debates.  I’ve spent many long hours doing that and enough is enough.  Time is precious and I have other things to do with my life." Does anybody know of just one doctrinal debate she's had? There is no record of any debate that anybody I know has come across.
  • If her story is true, she would be about 70 years old now, yet has untiring energy to trash Catholicism, knows all about hip hop culture, and has seen the Vagina Monologues.
  • In fact, there is nothing that I've seen to prove she actually exists. She could actually be a 300 pound man with a five day old beard, sitting in his parent's basement making all this stuff up, for all I know... I'm not saying she doesn't exist. I just don't know. If anyone has ever met her, or can prove she not a cyber avatar, please feel free to contact me with proof.

Mary Ann Collins' story is posted on a site called www.seekgod.ca which is a radical anti-Catholic site, and is full of sensationalist claims about all kinds of denominations. It is a site perfectly consistent with what I would expect from a person who thinks it's OK to make something up to "serve God" and trash Catholicism. The contact page says "I" and she calls herself "Vicky". Amazingly, Vicky's writing style is incredibly similar to Mary Ann. From the FAQ page, apparently Vicky does the writing and her husband simply provides a computer for her, but it is their "family" web site. Hey Vicky, feel free to give me a call and tell me all about your "friend" Mary Ann.

Anyway, I usually don't do rebuttals or investigations of anti-Catholics, but this one is just a bit too weird not to be examined and questioned.

Follow up:

I wrote the above article over 5 years ago, and as of 2012, have received no email from anyone who has ever met her. In a Google search for "Mary Ann Collins, this page comes up in the top 10. "Mary Ann" is online, has an active web site, must know I'm publicly questioning "her" existence. Yet has not contacted me to say, "hey, I exist"... However, I got an email from a reader that said:

I read your article about Mary Ann Collins with great interest.  The whole question of whether or not she exists is fascinating to me.  As many sites note, she has achieved a near-impossible level of elusivity, which is astounding for a widely-published author in the Internet age. Last month, I tried e-mailing Ms. Collins.  I've always been intrigued by ex-nun stories, so I asked her general questions about what day-to-day life was like in the convent.  I quickly received a message from her saying that her father and pastor advised her not to reveal any personal information, even though the questions I asked were no more personal than the bio on her website.  Of course, I wouldn't have asked where she lives, what order she joined, etc....I firmly believe that there must be someone - perhaps a friend or colleague ... who knows the truth....

This reader got a quick email response from "Mary Ann" who if she existed would be about 70 years old now, given her story, and this "Mary Ann" is listening to her "Father", uhhh, who would be how old? (90 or 100 years old, and is still alive?)... the reader also made some other good points:

I agree with your point about "her" father, and also believe that Mary Ann Collins does not exist.  My hunch is that a younger person - or perhaps a group of people - created her as a way to bash Catholics, because a former nun would have more "credibility" than someone who was a fundamentalist Protestant all of her life.  The reason I suspect a younger person is because it's unusual to find someone in their seventies so adept at maintaining a website and promoting their work online.  Also, her entire body of work was written in the past ten years or so; she doesn't have anything to show for earlier in her literary career.  In fact, her writings seem too extensive for someone to have produced single-handedly, which is why several people could be responsible. Changing topics, her bio uses the American spellings of words (i.e. "Savior" as opposed to "Saviour"), suggesting that she was created in the U.S. 

No one has ever said they've met this person who has written a book that that sold 10,000's, yet there is a quick response to emails? But of course "she" won't say anything about "her" life in the convent, while "she" is asking us to believe that "she" actually was in a convent, or that "she" actually exists - sounds like a "ghost" writer to me... scary stuff.

Lord Jesus, let Your prayer of unity for Christians
become a reality, in Your way.
We have absolute confidence
that you can bring your people together,
we give you absolute permission to move.
Amen