Women who enter most apostolic congregations in the 21st century intentionally engage in a changing time. They add their energy to the chaotic mix, in service of God's people. But what we think is new is not new.
GSR Today - The Giving Voice National Gathering, we talked about bridges. I am resistant to the idea of bridges because only connecting with our deeper values, risking unearthing ways we are already one, will bring us into unity.
Together, we move forward into the future of religious life. We are part of communities larger than ourselves; communities that fill our hearts and feed our souls. We do not journey alone, nor should we.
The School Sisters of Notre Dame, when our foundress was still around in the mid 1800s, had a problem with the archbishop of Munich: They wanted to lead the congregation themselves, without being overseen by a male director. What she and the sisters did can be applied to women religious today.
Three congregations of the Sisters of St. Joseph, by different paths, have come back to including agrégées into their vocations. Agrégées were part of the first St. Joseph communities, organized in LePuy, France, around 360 years ago. Now communities in Concordia, Kansas; Erie, Pennsylvania; and Springfield, Massachusetts, have such members again. Global Sisters Report takes a look at these "new" forms and emerging ways of religious life.
One of our novices asked me to share my experience of living the vowed life. I looked forward to an honest conversation — I wanted her to know the gift religious life is for me. After 59 years, it is still the best decision I ever made! Her first question, however, took me off guard. "What is a metaphor for your relationship with the hierarchical church?"
The chaos of China's Cultural Revolution dispersed the St. Therese of the Child Jesus congregation in the 1960s. In 1988, the congregation was reborn, and Sr. Ma Suling, who joined in 1992, today is superior general of 100 St. Therese sisters, who thrive by being "creative and active."
The survey is being turned into a manual, and an international study is in the works. "Once we can translate it into different cultures and languages, then it's a tool that can help move religious life into a viable future," says Divine Providence Sr. Maria Clara Kreis.
Franciscan Handmaids of the Most Pure Heart of Mary, one of three mostly black communities of women religious in the United States. announced they will sell their Harlem motherhouse as part of a restructuring effort. "We need to expand to places outside of New York as our number increases," said Sr. Gertrude Lilly Ihenacho, head of the congregation.
The response of young, newly educated women religious to the fast-paced changes taking place within Chinese society will play a determining role in the future of religious life in the nation.