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Why nuns are fun to watch on reality TV
Religious sisters are surprisingly entertaining when they appear on reality television. - photo by Kelsey Dallas
Almost a year after a group of potential religious sisters took reality television by storm on Lifetime's "The Sisterhood," there's a new nun in the spotlight.

Sister Alicia Torres, a 30-year-old who recently helped found the Franciscans of the Eucharist of Chicago religious community, was crowned "Chopped" champion on Monday night, after impressing judges with her appetizer, main course and dessert creations on the popular Food Network cooking competition.

The young nun described her appearance on the show as "an opportunity to have the world see a different side of who sisters are," according to Slate.

Nuns have made an unexpected splash during TV show appearances in recent months, the article noted, highlighting how another cooking nun stole viewers' hearts on "Master Chef Mexico" this fall.

"I have no idea if it's good for the Catholic Church, but it's great for TV," said Slate's Ruth Graham.

Catholic religious communities have been struggling to recruit new, young members as increasing numbers of Americans abandon their childhood faith. In 2014, there were fewer than 50,000 religious sisters in the U.S., according to a recent Pew Research Center. In 1964, there were nearly 180,000.

Although the star power of nuns like Torres might not lead more Americans to take religious vows, people of faith who engage with popular culture help people understand what it's like to lead a highly religious life, as Deseret News National noted in its coverage of "The Sisterhood."

Torres has no culinary training and honed her craft volunteering with a food kitchen in Chicago. She hoped her "Chopped" appearance would give people insight into her fulfilling life.

"Perhaps being on national TV and winning this competition will bring some attention to the issue of hunger and to the reality that God's love is so strong and so big," said Torres to the Chicago Tribune. "Literally nothing is impossible with God."
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