General Resources

Resources: Info and Links

Global Sisters Report offers these resource pages as a service to readers and to instructors and students of our GSR in the Classroom curriculum, as well as researchers interested in topics related to Catholic women religious. We've provided links to other organizations and websites and gathered lists of Global Sisters Report articles on some notable topics. All Global Sisters Report content is protected by copyright. We do not take responsibility for the accuracy of information on the websites linked to on these pages.

Becoming A Sister: Vocations and formation

This resource from the "A Nun's Life" website explains the basic steps for exploring a vocation to religious life.

This podcast from A Nun's Life includes discussion about how to discern which religious congregation is the best fit.

"Formation" refers to the process of discernment women follow before making a lifetime commitment to a particular religious community. While the length of the steps vary and are shaped by each community's distinct tradition, the process of discerning a call both to religious life and a particular community is similar.

National Religious Vocation Conference is an organization of vocation ministers of both women and men religious institutes. Its goal is to help women and men discern a religious vocation, to assess candidates interested in becoming Catholic sisters, brothers and priests, and to welcome new members to religious life.

These four videos, produced by America Media, explore the lives and ministries of six young sisters. They discuss their lives before they were sisters, how they discerned their call to religious life and the joys and struggles of learning to express themselves in their vocations.

If you are interested in exploring a vocation to religious life, check out this tool that connects your background and interests to congregations of women religious.

The Vision Vocation Network offers dozens of articles about discernment and religious life, as well as its annual discernment guide.

Big Picture: Overviews and studies

This introductory video explains who Catholic sisters are and how they live, work and serve others. You can also view the video in Spanish here.

This survey by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate published in February 2021 provided by insights into cultural diversity among those who had entered religious life in the U.S. in the past 15 years. Global Sisters Report wrote about the survey here.

CARA is a national, non-profit, Georgetown University-affiliated research center founded in 1965 that conducts social scientific studies about the Catholic Church. It has produced several studies and surveys about sisters.

A report about U.S. Catholic sisters was produced in December 2015 for Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities (FADICA). Kathleen Sprows Cummings, director of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism at the University of Notre Dame, produced the document, which includes a four-page executive summary followed by a 40-page report.

Called and Consecrated is a free, online curriculum that tells the stories of Catholic sisters in the United States and around the world.

"Sisterhood" is a seven-part video series that explores the mission and ministries of congregations of women religious in Vietnam, Tanzania, the United States and other places. The Sisterhood website features a trailer and descriptions of the 30-minute episodes, which are available for rental. Each episode also has its own study guide for further reflection.  

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is the official organization of the Catholic hierarchy in the U.S. Its puposes include coordinating and promoting Catholic activities, organizing religious, charitable and social welfare work, aiding in education and caring for immigrants.

Official site of the Holy See, which includes statements and teachings of current and former popes. The site's primary language is Italian, but also is published in English, French, Portuguese, Spanish and German. Some content also is available in Chinese, Arabic and Latin.  The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, which addresses women and men religious, has a page within this website.

The Year of Consecrated Life was celebrated from November 30, 2014, to February 2, 2016. A letter to consecrated women and men titled "Rejoice!" was released to commemorate the year. It shares teachings from Pope Francis regarding consecrated life.

FAQs: Answers to oft-asked questions

Learn more here about the vows that Catholic sisters and nuns take.

Each community of women religious has a unique charism, a gift from the Holy Spirit that sets it apart and empowers its members for their work in the world. Learn more about charisms here.

Two sisters answer random questions and discuss the variety and common threads in religious life in this 10-minute video.

This resource from the "A Nun's Life" website explains the basic steps for exploring a vocation to religious life.

These terms often are used interchangeably, but there are differences in the vows they take and the ways they live. Discover more here.

Prayer, community and ministry form the core of a sister's day, as this podcast episode explains.

How Sisters Help: Some key ministries

Sisters of Earth is a network of women, founded by Catholic sisters, who share a deep concern for the ecological and spiritual crises of our times and support one another in work toward healing the human spirit and restoring Earth’s life support systems.

U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking is a collaborative, faith-based national network that offers education, supports access to survivor services and engages in advocacy in an effort to eradicate modern-day slavery. It is a member of Talitha Kum, the international anti-trafficking network.

Talitha Kum is an international network of women religious against human trafficking. Its goals include prevention, protection and assistance, awareness raising and denouncement of human trafficking.

Discover what women religious around the world are doing to help people who are homeless or lack adequate shelter in GSR's series, "A Place to Call Home."

Many congregations of women religious are part of a strong presence at the United Nations, advocating as non-governmental organizations on for the concerns of women, children, migrants, workers, the environment and other causes.

Catholic sisters play an active role around the world in supporting refugees and migrants. Read about their work in Global Sisters Report stories.

Catholic sisters are active around the world in protecting the environment and working to mitigate climate change. Learn more in stories from Global Sisters Report.

Women religious around the world help to prevent trafficking, rescue victims and help them re-enter society safely. Learn more in stories from Global Sisters Report.

Sister History: A living legacy

300 Years of Sister History (in 5 minutes) is a fast-paced look at the legacy of Catholic sisters in the United States since 1727. It is narrated by journalist Cokie Roberts.

Sr. Thea Bowman broke down racial and cultural barriers. She embraced her identity as an African-American Catholic woman within her predominately white congregregation. She gave spirited presentations, including a bold witness to the U.S. Catholic bishops. She died in 1990 at age 52. Her cause for sainthood is being promoted. Here are several articles from Global Sisters Report and National Catholic Reporter about her.

Read here about ways in which women religious have shaped education, health care, social services, civil rights and other aspects of life in the United States.

Early in 2009, the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) began to assess the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) regarding ongoing concerns about LCWR's adherence to Catholic doctrine and practices. The CDF's April 2012 report included a mandate that LCWR revise its statutes and reform its programs. The report spurred nationwide protests in support of LCWR. Vatican oversight of LCWR ended in April 2015. This page includes excerpts of LCWR statements throughout the process.

Read interviews with Catholic sisters who participated in the 1965 civil rights marches in GSR's Sisters of Selma Q&A series.

Sr. Dorothy Stang, a human rights and environmental advocate, was an American-born member of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur working in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil. Her work to support peasants and prevent deforestation led to threats from loggers and ranchers. She was assassinated Feb. 12, 2005. Here are several articles from National Catholic Reporter and Global Sisters Report about her life and her martyrdom:

Sr. Helen Prejean journeys with prisoners sentenced to die and works to abolish capital punishment. A member of the Sisters of St. Joseph, her books include the bestselling "Dead Man Walking." Here are some articles about her from National Catholic Reporter and Global Sisters Report.

St. Teresa of Kolkata, well known as Mother Teresa, founded the Missionaries of Charity congregation and served poor, marginalized and dying people in India and around the world. Here are links to articles about her published in National Catholic Reporter and Global Sisters Report.

The deaths of four U.S. churchwomen in El Salvador on Dec. 2, 1980, awakened the world to the violence exploding throughout much of Central America. Here are links to articles from National Catholic Reporter and Global Sisters Report.

Archival Resources for Catholic Collections preserves the legacy of Catholic women and men religious who created educational, charitable, and medical infrastructures in the United States and Canada.

Sister Supporters: Strengthening religious life

The mission of the African Sisters Education Collaborative (ASEC) is to facilitate educational opportunities for women religious in Africa. These opportunities enable them to enhance and expand access to educational, health care, social and spiritual services for the people they serve.

In 2014, GSR's Melanie Lidman held her first writing workshop with 35 sisters from a variety of small congregations who were completing preparation for their final vows. The workshop took place in a retreat center run by the Nigerian Conference of Women Religious in Enugu, Nigeria. Here is her workshop template.

Communicators for Women Religious is a network of professional support and education for those who promote understanding of women religious, enhance their image and advance their mission.

The North American Conference of Associates and Religious (NACAR) is a membership organization that serves, empowers and promotes the associate-religious relationship.

National Religious Vocation Conference is an organization of vocation ministers of both women and men religious institutes. Its goal is to help women and men discern a religious vocation, to assess candidates interested in becoming Catholic sisters, brothers and priests, and to welcome new members to religious life.

Religious Formation Conference serves religious institutes of women and men in the United States with programs and services for initial formation, lifelong formation and general congregational membership.

Solidarity with Sisters is a group of people seeking to grow through spiritual practices and social action, in solidarity with the Leadership Conference for Women Religious. Its website includes resources on community life, contemplation, social action and other aspects of religious life.

The Resource Center for Religious Institutes helps religious congregations with their organizational, financial and legal needs.

The Hilton Foundation's Catholic Sisters Initiative suppports the ministry and spiritual witness of women religious. It invests in education for sisters, human development services and other initiatives to fortify the sisters' efforts. Reports on outcomes of the initiative can be found here.

The Conrad N. Hilton Fund for Sisters, established in 1986 as a separate entity from the Hilton Foundation, supports the apostolic work of Roman Catholic Sisters around the world to help disadvantaged and vulnerable people.

Learn more about Global Sisters Report in this introductory video. GSR is an independent, non-profit source of news and information about Catholic sisters and the critical issues facing the people they serve. Our network of journalists report about sisters' lives and works, and sisters write commentary from their perspective.

Sustaining Sisters: Associations and organizations

A Nun’s Life Ministry helps people discover and grow in their vocation by engaging questions about God, faith and religious life.

The ministry is partially funded by a grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.

Catholic Sisters Week is an annual event that shines a spotlight on women religious, raising awareness of their charisms and engagement in their ministries. It is an effort of Communicators for Women Religious.

International Union of Superiors General (UISG) is a worldwide, canonically approved organization of superiors general of institutes of Catholic women religious. UISG and the Union of Superior Generals (men) also share a website Vidimus Dominum.

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) is an association of the leaders of congregations of Catholic women religious in the United States. Its members represent nearly 80 percent of the approximately 44,000 women religious in the United States. LCWR's website provides links to nearly 200 congregations.

The Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious is made up of the leaders of 112 communities of sisters in the United States and represents nearly 6,000 sisters.

The National Black Sisters’ Conference (NBSC) is an organization of Black Catholic women religious and associates from across the United States.  

Giving Voice creates spaces for younger women religious to give voice to their hopes, dreams and challenges in religious life. 

Where Sisters Are: Global connections and conferences

Catholic Religious Australia provides support and advocacy for more than 5,000 women and men religious from more than 150 congregations in Australia.

The Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious is made up of the leaders of 112 communities of sisters in the United States and represents nearly 6,000 sisters.

Asociación de Hermanas Latinas Misioneras en América (AHLMA) is a network of sisters in the United States who primarily serve migrants and other people who are poor and vulnerable. Its website is available in English and Spanish.

The mission of the African Sisters Education Collaborative (ASEC) is to facilitate educational opportunities for women religious in Africa. These opportunities enable them to enhance and expand access to educational, health care, social and spiritual services for the people they serve.

The Association of Missionaries and Religious of Ireland promotes collaboration between religious congregations, apostolic societies and lay missionary organizations. It was formed in 2016, bringing together the Conference of Religous of Ireland and the Irish Missionary Union.

Confederation of Latin American Religious (CLAR) is a conference of women and men religious from South America, Central America and the Caribbean.

A list of orders of women religious, including links to each order's website.

The Canadian Religious Conference is a leadership network for Catholic religious communities of women and men in Canada. Its website is available in English and French.

AIM USA is an organization composed of 140 communities of women and men in the United States and Canada who follow the Rule of Benedict and more than 450 English-speaking monasteries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The National Black Sisters’ Conference (NBSC) is an organization of Black Catholic women religious and associates from across the United States.  

International Union of Superiors General (UISG) is a worldwide, canonically approved organization of superiors general of institutes of Catholic women religious. UISG and the Union of Superior Generals (men) also share a website Vidimus Dominum.

Association of Consecrated Women in Eastern and Central Africa (ACWECA) is comprised of the national associations of women religious from nine African nations: Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Republic of Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan and Zambia.

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) is an association of the leaders of congregations of Catholic women religious in the United States. Its members represent nearly 80 percent of the approximately 44,000 women religious in the United States. LCWR's website provides links to nearly 200 congregations.

Conferencia de Superiores Mayores de Religiosos de México (the Conference of Major Superiors of Religious of Mexico) promotes collaboration among religious congregations in Mexico and studies common issues and challenges. Its website is in the Spanish language.