In the past two weeks, I found myself at two different meetings of Sisters, both focused on addressing the future of religious life.  The first was a national convention for Giving Voice–women religious under the age of fifty.  The second was a three-day meeting of my community.  Both meetings, each in their own way, rooted me more firmly in my understanding of what it means to be a Benedictine Sister of Chicago and allowed me an opportunity to dream about what the future of religious life will look like and how I can work to continue to shape it.


Giving Voice Sisters

Nearly seventy women religious gathered at Giving Voice from over forty communities and nearly twenty countries.  We did not get an age breakdown, but the ages seemed to range from twenty eight to forty eight or forty nine.  It was one of the few gatherings of religious women in which I was among the “elders.”  Our days consisted of various structured discussions about issues which are facing women religious at this time and how, as younger sisters, we are being called to step forward and help our communities address these issues.

As I returned to my own community meetings, these issues became very concrete as we discussed our future together.  While we have not made many decisions about what that future will be, our discussions allow us to imagine how we want to live together, given our current reality.  We can identify pieces of that future that we need to begin living now.


It’s harder at home to remember to take photos, but we spent a lot of time in circles at both meetings!

In both of these gatherings, I noticed that we always gather in circles in order to have our discussions. It allows us to face one another and speak from our truth, while also listening to the wisdom of one another. St. Benedict calls us to listen “with the ear of your heart” and these circles help us to do just that. It is in the listening and responding that, over time, we are able to fashion a communal response to whatever questions stand in front of us.

While I don’t know what the future of religious life will look like, I do know that it will be fashioned not by one or two voices, but by the wisdom that arises out of communal reflection and the bonds of community.