Written on: October 4, 2022
Members of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious were VERY excited to meet in person in August since this yearly assembly had been virtual for the past two years. Our theme this year was Mystical Wisdom: Following Spirit’s Beckoning. For four days, more than 700 of us explored sources of wisdom available to us through prayer, symbols, music, gesture, and contemplative dialogue.
In the presidential address by Sister Jane Herb, IHM, in the keynote conversations between Sister Constance FitzGerald, OCD and Dr. M. Shawn Copeland, and in the dialogues among six LCWR members, we “followed Spirit’s beckoning”. We brought to the assembly in St. Louis the world’s struggles and suffering, the longing of so many for hope, for peace, for home.
“We need to look to the future with both our heads and our hearts . . . the future of religious life needs to respond to the transformation that is happening within us as the changes are happening around us. We need to be nimble and to risk as we look to the future. We are called to trust in the mystery as God calls us from the future.”
Sr. Jane Herb, IHM
Sister Connie FitzGerald and Dr. Shawn Copeland livestreamed from Connie’s Carmelite monastery in Baltimore. Their shared conversations flowed out of the context of major world shifts, in particular the loss of place or homeland of so many millions, victims of war and hunger and violence, and our own loss of place as women religious.
Sister Connie challenged those present, but really each of us, with these words,
“Christ longs for us to join in communicating compassion across the currents of human consciousness.”
Sister Anne Munley, IHM, summarized for the Assembly the experiences of members who gathered this past spring in collaborative “hubs” in cities across the United States. Anne said,
“The deep change we are experiencing currently is part of the evolutionary process of religious life. It is not a discrete time of endings and beginnings. We are living into a new moment that has spiraled all through the centuries from the age of the desert mothers and fathers, through the various expressions of religious life, to the present context of chaos, crisis, and opportunity. It is a movement fueled by the quest for God and desire to live the essence of the call fully in the present as we make space for the future.”
Beyond presentations and conversations, the Assembly provided for leaders of religious communities a kind of special air to breathe- the breath of the Spirit – calling us to trust, reminding all of us called to this religious life, We are not alone. We are together in Christ.