An international sisterhood: Panelists reflect on a year of writing for The Life

This article appears in the The Life feature series. View the full series.

For this last month of the tenure of the 2020-21 The Life panel, participants were invited to reflect on their experience writing for Global Sisters Report and to send us their thoughts if they wished. Learn more about each panelist by visiting her author page.

GSR would like to thank this group of sisters who participated on the 2020-21 panel, and we hope they will continue to write for us as columnists. We all wish them well.

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Sr. Donna L. Ciangio of the Sisters of St. Dominic of Caldwell, New Jersey, writes:

Thank you for this wonderful experience of being on an international panel. It was important to hear the insights, hopes, longings and energy for ministry from around the world, and it was fun to participate.

So many sisters expressed appreciation for GSR and the panel's insights. At this time in religious life, it is hopeful and exciting that we listen to each other and share our global experiences. We are blessed to have this model where all of us can join together to celebrate and support each other in a church that sorely needs renewal!

Sr. Robancy A. Helen of the Idente Missionaries (Religious Institute of Christ the Redeemer) writes:

Gratitude is an attitude of the heart. Every time I write down my thoughts, I give life to someone. Isn't it great! God makes us instruments of spreading the good news to everyone.

Global Sisters Report was a God-given opportunity for me to share my inner connection to God and his people and to journey with sisters from all over the world. Each sister's reflections strengthened my commitment to God and the church. We live by sharing and giving our lives with others. I thank the Global Sisters Report team for the support and guidance.

Sr. Rita M. Yeasted of the Sisters for Christian Community writes:

In 2019, my community had an international assembly in Manila, Philippines. It was a life-changing experience. I pledged to share the stories I heard but did not make time for it.

Then came the chance to write for the panel. It has been great to have to sit down to meet a deadline. And I began to realize that my teaching and its emphasis on social justice does make a difference.

I look forward to continuing to read about sisters all over the world and offering my own insights. Thank you, GSR staff!

Sr. Margaret Grace Nakafu of the Medical Missionaries of Mary writes:

Writing for GSR has offered me the opportunity to develop as a writer. Reflecting on the topics, seeing them from different perspectives, being honest in sharing my experiences — including strengths and vulnerabilities — was an adventure leading to inner growth. The topic I enjoyed most was my experience of the vow of celibacy as a vow of love.

Thanks for the enriching experience; in our writing, we have shared so much of who we are! May God bless each one of my sister-writers, and thanks to Global Sisters Report for this opportunity.

Sr. Rita Malavisi of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart writes:

Somehow, within the body of this late-middle-aged Catholic nun in Australia still lies the little Aussie Arab/Italian girl who couldn't speak English before she went to school. It was a blessing to be chosen from sisters of many different religious congregations.

I am extremely grateful to have been involved with this passionate group of women dedicated in their living of an authentic religious life all over the world.

Sr. Agnes Musemba Mativo of the Religious Sisters of Mercy writes:

The experience of being a 2020-21 Global Sisters Report panelist for The Life was quite enriching for me, widening my horizon in looking at consecrated life in the 21st century.

I appreciated the diversity among us and the wisdom and insights drawn from the various articles each panelist wrote. I applaud the GSR staff for the thought-provoking topics that we were called upon to ponder, to dream and exercise our imagination as women religious in the modern world.

Sr. Susan Smith of the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions writes:

I have always appreciated the gift of being a member of an international congregation. But contributing to the Global Sisters Report panel has made me see in a new way that I am a part of an international sisterhood, all of us with that wonderful mission of hastening the coming of the reign of God in our often fractured and broken world in amazingly rich and diverse ways.

Dr. Beena Madhavath of the Congregation of Ursulines of Mary Immaculate writes:

Global Sisters Report staff, thank you for the great opportunity given to me to write as a panelist for Global Sisters Report. It was an enriching experience for me. Thank you for the timely support and reminders that you sent regularly to me.

Sr. Kathryn Press of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus writes:

I loved getting [our GSR contact's] monthly emails when a new group of reflections went live. Next came the flurry of responses as we read each other's works. I looked forward to reading our reflections each month.

I admired the sisters who answered the questions I found intimidating. They were nourishing and eye-opening and filled my heart with gratitude for religious life. I'm so thankful I had the opportunity to be a part of such a global work.

Sr. Blanca Alicia Sánchez Olvera of the Verbum Dei Missionary Fraternity writes:

I am full of gratitude and amazement for the opportunity I had to be a panelist for Global Sisters Report. I love to write about important issues of consecrated life.

I learned a lot from the other panelists and, at the same time, I knew that I have a light to share with them. All of us were born to manifest the light that is within us.

Sr. Mary Joseph Schultz of the Sisters of Christian Charity writes:

My experience of being part of The Life panel for Global Sisters Report has been extremely enriching. I am happy to be connected to many sisters throughout the world, and it has been life-giving to share our thoughts and prayer experiences on different topics.

Our common denominator is religious life. The variables of culture, country and charism show the variety of the body of Christ. Religious are truly the heart of the body. I look forward to writing more for GSR!

Sr. Nasreen Daniel of the Sisters of Loretto writes:

I have always enjoyed writing, and your questions and guidelines helped explore new experiences, teaching me to look at the situations and people around me with analytical eyes and be creative in describing them.

It was an enriching experience to join a community of women with the same kinds of problems, eager to look for solutions. I have learned how different people take diverse approaches and share their hearts from new perspectives. Being on the panel pushed me from my comfort zone to the reality of the time. 

Sr. Sujata Jena of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary writes:

Writing for The Life panel encouraged me to reflection, introspection and looking at the bigger picture of religious life — and to be a happier and more empathic person. My deepest thanks to GSR for giving us an opportunity to reflect on the fundamentals of religious life and our mission.

GSR is unique! I know of no other platform open only for women religious to express their views, opinions, reflections. It helps raise some moral and ethical questions for consecrated life. I really hope this will continue.

Eco Farm 3 c.jpg

Sr. Ejasmin Lucasan, left, and Sr. Alma Mangao, members of Sisters for Christian Charity, have tea at the Caritas Bliss Eco Farm in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental, Philippines. (Courtesy of Sisters for Christian Charity)

Sr. Rosa Ocampo of the Sisters for Christian Community writes:

Becoming a part of The Life panel feels like forming a oneness with sisters of assorted charisms, backgrounds and cultures. It's like coming across a contemporary community of sisters: reaching out to each other, sharing ideas and experiences, facing the same challenges, issues and concerns.

The other panelists' essays and emails lift me up on bad days, remind me to hope when I'm burdened and discouraged, and to share my blessings when things turn out well.

Sr. Gail Worcelo of the Sisters of the Earth Community writes:

It has been a wonderful experience this past year, participating in the diversity of expression through the written word that forms the core of the Global Sisters Report international panel. What I enjoyed most was the opportunity to reflect on themes and questions within a deadline, because that bit of pressure catalyzed my creativity and pulled out of me my own unique expression. Thank you so much for this opportunity!

Sr. Stephanie Romiti of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Sault Ste. Marie writes:

I affirm everyone else's comments! It has been a pleasure and a blessing to be a part of this group and to have the opportunity to be a part of this panel. I look forward to continuing to read future columns. Blessings on all of you.

Sr. Kathryn Keigher of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary writes:

I was nervous and excited to be a part of the panel. I enjoyed the process, especially throughout the pandemic, when "loneliness" took on a new meaning.

What surprised me most was the subtle incorporation into a network of people I did not know and was never likely to meet. We spontaneously greeted, encouraged and praised each other for our contributions with a warmth and sincerity of old and trusted friends. There was an ease and familiarity between us and our GSR staff contact.

Most of all, there was the presence of God moving among us. I feel privileged to have been a part of it. As the saying goes, "There are no strangers here; only friends you haven't yet met."

Editor's note: Other members of the 2020-21 panel who chose not to submit a response are Sr. Andrea J. Lee, Sr. Deirdre Mullan and Sr. Rosemary Achien'g Oduol.

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