An open letter of gratitude to the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in the United States

This story appears in the LCWR feature series. View the full series.

So much has been written about the Leadership Conference of Women Religious of the USA particularly since April this year when the Vatican closed the controversial oversight of the LCWR. What I would like to express here is my/our deep gratitude to the LCWR for their exemplary way of going through this extremely painful and difficult process. Your witness is an extremely significant lesson for all of us, women religious, who are committed to the mission of Jesus in this church in today’s world.

In the words of Sr. Eileen Campbell, vice president of the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the America, you have shown us the “integrity of the contemplative process and mutual, respectful dialogue.” What amazes and impresses us is that you have collectively maintained a remarkable attitude of openness, dialogue and loving patience throughout the hurting process as a way to pray, contemplate and discern God’s presence. You have shown us your profound faith and trust in Jesus who says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” We learned from you what it means to live the Paschal Mystery throughout our journey. We have learned how to rise to a new life from many situations of death and despair.

We come across with many situations of conflict in our life at all levels. Very often, some of us are tempted to evade conflictive realities within the church as well as within our own congregations when we are confronted with so many painful realities of violence and divisions in the world. A model of conflict resolution/transformation shown by you is deeply inspiring and prophetic, dear Sisters, and your witness invites us to face the reality of division in our own house.

I looked at the picture of your representatives sitting with Pope Francis. I believe that this is a new beginning of our common journey which is Spirit-led and hope-filled. I would love to join you in your celebration in Houston in August.

Kokoro kara arigato gozaimasu.

[Filo Hirota is a member of the Mercedarian Missionaries of Berriz and its executive coordinator. A native of Japan, Hirota has served there, the Philippines, Nicaragua and Mexico. Currently she is a board member of the International Union of Superiors General and an executive committee member of Pax Christi International.]