For instance, in late 2014, Dominican Sister Mary Hughes began a new LCWR ministry as director of transitional services. She's working with congregations "in uncharted waters of diminishment," whose ministries may be drawing to completion. That's hard in so many ways.
Yet with such challenges, where does LCWR focus? Eight hundred LCWR leaders will gather in Houston on August 11-15 to be attentive to the needs of the world. The theme of their annual Assembly is Springs of the Great Deep Burst Forth: Meeting the Thirsts of the World.
The theme refers to the story of the creation of the world (Genesis 7:11); to “the reservoir of wisdom that we believe can be accessed through living a life of contemplation”; and to what may be drawn from this wisdom to meet the urgent needs throughout the world.
Of course, this focus isn’t new. LCWR itself and its member congregations are very actively engaged in social justice work already. A lot of LCWR energy and creativity flows toward the environment, immigration reform, and ending human trafficking and gun violence, and other needs.
Are the sisters worn down from the Vatican mandate (2012-15), the doctrinal assessment and apostolic visitation (2008-2014), and the normal complexities of leadership of organizations challenged by decreasing resources? Well, who wouldn't be?! Does that stop them from passionate commitment to their work in solidarity with people on the margins, and in support of issues like those above? Nope.
I get frequent doses of humility from this. When I reflect on what I do, and much more that I don’t do, to “meet the thirsts of the world,” I can’t escape noting their resourceful, undaunted commitment.
Women religious are still teaching me, decades after I graduated from their schools. But now I'm lucky to know some women religious as dear friends. So I realize they're human like me. (That would have been a news flash to me at 8, 12, 15....) Kryptonite doesn't bother them, but nonetheless -- I don't think they'll feel on Easy Street until the thirsts of the world are satisfied and divine joy reigns.
I hope you’ll join me in asking God to bless their Assembly and each of them in a special way this week. May they find deep refreshment in being together as the Springs of the Great Deep Burst Forth.