Building a new (far messier) vision of religious life, incorporating many voices.

LCWR Reflections

As a member of Giving Voice invited to be present at LCWR, I thought my role would be to make my voice heard. Giving Voice was among several groups who were requested to be present at the table as LCWR strives to discern how it is called to move into the future and who will move with them. Implicit in the invitation was our job to speak for younger Sisters in religious communities—those whose voices are often not heard by leadership because they can be drowned out by the far more numerous older voices. And  while I cannot speak for all younger Sisters, at these meetings in the past few days, I certainly have been called upon to speak my own truth. The unexpected gift of these meetings, however, has been the chance to listen deeply to those in leadership in religious communities and congregations. To listen to, and to honor the multiple, overlapping, sometimes almost cacophonous stories of religious life; to pick out the strands that I feel are central, and to add my voice to the story. 

Our time together has been devoted to listening to speakers and to discussing our responses at tables. Unsurprisingly, I was the youngest at my first table; the only one under 60, and, I suspect, only one of two under 70. The very first discussion as I voiced my hope that religious leaders not only worked to help address congregational structures and to journey with aging Sisters, but also that they strove to imagine or to make space for new ways of making Christ present in the world, one of the Sisters observed, “This is why we need younger Sisters present.” While I’m not certain that my voice changed the conversation, my ideas  gave pause to the leaders at my table whose perspective is somewhat different than mine.