GSR looks back on 2014

The media are busy summarizing the year: world events, best movies, best books, celebrity lives, who has died. Markers of time. Every year’s ending affords an opportunity for a life review, a gratitude review. Where has life taken us? What have been the blessings of the year?

The mission of Global Sisters Report is to raise the voices of women religious around the world. When we embarked on this adventure, we didn’t know where it would take us. We still don’t. But we knew we wanted to carry compelling stories about women religious, their ministries and the critical issues facing them and the people they serve.

And we also knew we wanted to hear directly from women religious themselves. So at year’s end, we at GSR pause for our own gratitude review of the sister columnists who gave generously of themselves. They have blessed us all with their insights and wisdom.

We give thanks for and to them all . . . whether they’ve written once, occasionally or on a regular basis. We encourage you to explore their columns . . . the caliber and degree of involvement they reflect are amazing!

You, the readers, conduct your own gratitude review on an on-going basis by clicking on the green “Say thanks” rectangle at the end of each column or story.  Here are the columns thanked most often by you in 2014:

  1. Jesus and women: ‘You are set free’” in two parts by Sr. of St. Joseph Elizabeth Johnson. Elizabeth set the stage for us as we launched Global Sisters Report by reminding us that “the power of encounter with Jesus is liberating,” a theme echoed throughout the pages of GSR.
  2. In another stage-setting column posted during our first week, Benedictine Sr. Joan Chittister describes “The global sisterhood: nowhere and everywhere.”
  3. In May, following Cardinal Müller’s remarks to the leadership of the LCWR about conscious evolution, Franciscan Sr. Ilia Delio stepped right up to GSR’s request for a response with her column “Renewing the conversation between faith and science.”
  4. Good Shepherd Sister Clare Nolan considers the “desperation and hope of globalization” as she bridges two worlds in “Entering a new reality: Kolwezi , the Democratic Republic of Congo.”  
  5. Sr. Colleen Gibson writes of her experience of being the only novice in her community, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Philadelphia in “Party of one.”

Not surprisingly, sisters are often too busy doing their ministries to have time to write so we are especially grateful for those who have been writing columns on a monthly basis. Here is a sampling of their wisdom:

  • Immaculate Heart of Mary Sr. Nancy Sylvester’s series for Contemplate This, starting with “Contemplation: a call to all.” Nancy gives us insight into the importance of contemplation in our lives, in shaping our consciousness and for empowering change.
  • Franciscan Sr. Joan Brown writes for the column Capital E: Earth which delves into climate change, ecology, sustainable living and eco-spirituality.  “Our times require Holy, Active and Extravagant Loving…” when facing climate change Joan reminds us in her column “In the wake of the People’s Climate March."
  • Exploring the connection between science, evolution and theology is a recurrent theme of Franciscan Ilia Delio’s columns for Speaking of God, GSR’s column by sister theologians. Don’t miss her latest, “2015: The Year of Love.”

Web tip: You can find a list of everything any author has written by opening a column and clicking on their names.

We know the future of religious life is in good hands when we read the superb Horizons columns by younger sisters and women in formation. A round of applause goes to our regular contributors, who write monthly. It’s difficult to pick favorites but if you missed this regular Friday feature, maybe you can start with these:

  • Sr. of St. Joseph of Peace Susan Rose Francois reflects on attitudes toward religious dress in “Habits of love.”
  • The pain of climate change” is explored by Julia Walsh, a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration.
  • Sister of Charity of Cincinnati novice Tracy Kemme shares her vocational journey and thoughts on a culture of vocation in “Share the many ‘yeses’" of religious life.”
  • Although written during Advent, St. Joseph Sister Colleen Gibson gives us a timeless reflection on “Becoming human.”

Kudos, too, go to those sisters who responded to emergent issues, including Janet Gildea, a Sister of Charity of Cincinnati, covering immigration issues at the border starting with “We mobilized to meet their needs” and the very thoughtful response to the Apostolic Visitation report by Immaculate Heart of Mary Sr. Sandra Schneiders “Engage the future: Reflections on the apostolic visitation report.”

Our international sister columnists widen our awareness and perspectives. Check out Handmaid of the Holy Child Jesus Sr. Caroline Mbonu’s “African sisterhood: A Nigerian experience of church life” and Sister of Notre Dame de Namur Eucharia Madueke’s “Equality or complementarity: Gender relations seen through African eyes.” Global Sisters Report looks forward to expanding the number of international sister columnists in 2015.

Daughter of St. Paul Sr. Anne Kiragu lives and ministers in South Sudan. In the midst of dire circumstances she is “Living the joy of the Gospel,” capturing the spirit for us all:

We therefore burst toward life with the same fire and enthusiasm reaching those to whom we are sent. In this process, we also discover the magnitude of the life we have to share and let the Gospel joy possess us fully. Hence we will be able to embrace the society of today that is so much deprived of the true meaning of life, and of its dignity, and to participate in mending its torn and rugged edges.

We have indeed been very blessed in 2014!

[Jan Cebula, OSF, is liaison to women religious in the United States for Global Sisters Report and coordinates the columns for the website. Any women religious interested in writing for GSR can contact her at]