At age 65, and as one of the "younger" members of an aging and shrinking congregation of women religious in the United States, I have found myself called and gifted to be part of emerging programs in leadership development for young sister leaders in China and East Africa. These experiences are part of my work at DePaul University in Chicago as director of Vincent on Leadership: The Hay Project based on the leadership legacy of St. Vincent de Paul.
In the Great Lakes Region of Africa, consecrated women and men who have been exposed to the realities of sexual abuse were urged to address its horror through a wakeup call at two formation workshops. The first workshop was organized and hosted in 2017 in Goma, where sexual violence has been used as a weapon of war. As woman activist Lina Zedriga Waru says, "The body of woman is the battle field for the perpetrators."
Women religious are now openly discussing a subject that was once taboo — sexual harassment, abuse and rape of sisters by clergy — in congregational motherhouses and national conference offices. Slowly, an era is ending in which Catholic women religious were silent victims of sexual abuse by priests and bishops.
GSR Today - The Congregation of Mother of Carmel Sisters are the first indigenous religious congregation for women in India, founded in Kerala in 1866 and now have nearly 7,000 members in five continents.
"She helped me discern what this call was all about. She's been there from the beginning." On the surface, these sisters' life stories seem radically different, but what they have in common was a connection with another woman, one that altered the trajectory of their lives — someone who sparked a desire for religious life they might not have known existed.
GSR Today - While we love reflecting back on a year of hard work and sharing our favorite stories, we also find it useful to turn to your example to see what stories resonated in 2018. (It's no surprise that coverage of the clergy sex abuse crisis dominates the list.)
From Where I Stand - Every day, we find ourselves in a new political quandary that threatens us, unsettles us, divides us rather than unifies us. And worse, the split emanates from the top down.
Women who worked in Ireland's "Magdalene laundries" but were denied compensation under the state's Magdalene Restorative Justice program have won their long-running battle to have their applications reassessed. New legislation will ensure that payments to the women will be fast-tracked by the Irish state in an effort to make amends for the delay they have endured over their disputed compensation for their time working in the laundries.
Living life as a woman religious requires me to remember that faith permeates every aspect of my life. This includes what I buy, what my community invests in, and how I treat other people. It also includes sharing that faith with others, including corporations.
Horizons - This experience of sharing community at the Catholic Worker house with people from different spiritualities, different professions and trades, different races and ages, different gender expressions and personalities: It got under my skin.
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