After I left Opus Dei, I had nightmares almost every night for ten years.
Maria tried talking to me about joining Opus Dei while visiting the crypt of the founder of Opus Dei, but I delayed my decision because of the pressure I felt during this week. In May, Maria and the director of Bayridge, also a numerary, invited me and some of my other Bayridge friends to a weekend getaway at a cottage in New Hampshire in order to live "the spirit of Opus Dei." We did not have to worry about any of the preparations.
The administration even packed all of our nice groceries.
She paid a lot of attention to me; for example, from time to time, she would even leave little chocolates for me on my pillow.
Another resident, whom I'll call Anna, who had graduated from The Willows Academy, a college-prep school, whose overall religious education is entrusted to Opus Dei, befriended me and also took me under her wing.
As in the rest of the Catholic Church, women may not join the priesthood or participate in the very highest levels of church governance.
The Catholic prohibitions against abortion and birth control have also drawn criticism.
She told me that when she joined Opus Dei as a numerary, she cried and cried because she had wanted to have a baby, but now God had rewarded her because she felt as if I were a daughter to her.
Soon after, I joined as a supernumerary, a member who can get married and have a family.
A spokesman has said the Opus Dei is committed to the "equal dignity of men and women." In the opinion of one member, women should not enter the workforce as "one more" but as a "different one," given that "the only ontological difference among human beings is determined by the sexes," and that care for the family and the home are "eminently feminine." Supporters say that Opus Dei, with its emphasis on work, is a strong advocate of women becoming professionals— according to one scholar, "Opus Dei has an enviable record of educating the poor and supporting women, whether single or married, in any occupation they choose." Supporters also point out that women participate in the governance of Opus Dei— for example, the Central Advisory, which oversees the women's branch of Opus Dei, is made up entirely of women.