The Sisters’ Situation

By | September 3, 2014

So, the mean Vatican is opposed to the religious sisters of the US! Isn’t this awful.

Well, that’s what a Time Magazine opinion article explains. But is this the whole story? Nope. This situation has been around a while now, and attempts to give a particular spin continue, but not all religious sisters are on the same page.

Or even planet, it seems. Universe?

I don’t think I need to go over the differences between the CMSWR and the LCWR and all that. I did in a previous post that has picked up some “hits” lately, probably due in part to the Time article.

Consider the Institute on Religious Life. This site is the antithesis of the Time article. Just look, and everything about it is the opposite of what the article says. Truly, this is a different universe. Take a look at the upcoming women’s retreats. No angst over Vatican investigations here. No Vatican investigations, in fact. These are CMSWR communities. Totally out of touch with the “times,” (and Time Magazine for that matter) but growing in real time (with a particular focus on eternity).

Carl Olson gave a response to the Time article, but really, all this digital ink doesn’t make a difference in particular communities. The battle lines were drawn long ago. The demographics continue to unfold (or unravel), and the reality, while being raged against on one side, is simply a matter of time.

Nancy Schreck, OSF, really did say something of the cold, harsh reality in many LCWR communities in her keynote address at the 2014 LCWR Assembly: “As a leader I believe that ‘God is doing something new,’ but what fills my days are: funerals, data on declining demographics, leadership team decisions to discontinue a precious ministry of the Congregation, worry about our sisters in Liberia and in North India, selling property, taking down buildings in trying to right size property and holdings. I believe that ‘God is doing something new,’ but when being called to address the congregation at Chapter I wonder what to say that can provide hope and encouragement.”

The encouragement is over at the Institute for Religious Life site with lots of young smiling faces, but it is a stinging rebuke to LCWR leaders. They never intended to die out, but based on the results, you would think that was the goal.

Certain prophets could see it coming a mile away. And among them is the famous Fr. Thomas Dubay, who said years ago “For religious, in their apostolates, giving a saintly example has a profound external impact. The best thing you religious can do for your community is to live a life of holiness. This is the problem with the lack of vocations. It is the elephant in our parlor, the problem we can’t address, but which is obviously there. We don’t discuss the main problems we have in our communities. Our communities are struggling and are not drawing new vocations, but we don’t discuss why!”

I think there are holy sisters in LCWR communities–sisters that have been completely ignored. They knew what to do and had the answers, but holiness (which includes piety) was seen as old fashioned. Activism–that was the most important thing. As the Time article points out, you don’t need to be a religious sister to be an activist. It was true 50 years ago, and it is definitely true today.

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