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National LCWR Assembly Highlights

Posted 9/1/2017

This year’s LCWR National Assembly was attended by 768 women religious, invited to participate in exploring the theme “Being the Presence of Love: The Power of Transformation." 

Planned as an experience of contemplative engagement and designed to help members learn, reflect on, and discuss the transformational opportunity for religious life in a contemplative manner, it also provided learning tools for contemplative discernment that participants can apply in their future planning within their individual communities.…

The first Keynote Speaker, Dr. Christopher Pramuk, entitled his message “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?  Leaning into the Mystery of Resurrection Faith”. A life-long musician, Christopher uses music, poetry and the arts to convey his message. As a professor of systematic theology at Xavier University he teaches courses at the intersection of spirituality, race, the arts, theology and social justice. In one college professor, Dr. Ysaye Barnwell Chris “discovered the face of Christ and it was black”. She led her students through the “terrible beauty” of African American Spirituals and the deep river of black resistance and grace. We were invited to sing and pray some of those songs along with him.

Jan Richardson entitled her message: We Stood in the Place of Death and Heard the Living Call our Name. Jan is a writer, an artist and an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church. In the wake of the death of her husband and creative partner after just three and a half years of marriage she has been living with the mystery of death. “There is a mystery that occurs when our hearts are broken. Our place of most devastating loss can become a place of profound transformation, enabling our hearts to become larger than we ever imagined. Grief becomes a threshold, a passage that opens us to greater reserves of love, hope, and grace than we could summon on our own”.

The heart and spirit of the first two speakers easily carried us into the stellar presentation by LCWR President Mary Pellegrino, CSJ. Her heartfelt presentation entitled The Future Enters Us Long Before It Happens: Opening Space for an Emerging Narrative of Communion. She urges us to let the pain of diminishment pass and to recognize possibilities of a new spirit of deepening communion. She shared her belief that while the former narratives have not all passed, and the new narratives have not all emerged, we are living religious life in a liminal space in which “our real work - the work of all of us together, all of us living this life – is to assist passing narratives about ourselves to pass in order to open space for what’s emerging to arrive.”

In addition to these wonderful presentations mentioned above time was provided to hear the hopes and dreams for the future from four of our younger religious superiors; a public statement was issued imploring President Donald J. Trump to engage in dialogue and negotiation, particularly when dealing with the escalating tensions between the governments of the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea; Sister Constance FitzGerald, a Carmelite nun from Baltimore Maryland received the 2017 LCWR Outstanding Leadership Award for her work with the formation and education of contemplative sisters in the United States and beyond. Her scholarship and writings on the great Carmelite mystics have significantly influenced the lives of women religious globally.

The palpable spirit of love, hope and commitment permeated the entire program of the assembly. The planners, the speakers and all involved did such a tremendous job of making this Assembly a graced and fruitful experience of the work of the Spirit helping us to be the spirit of love in order to birth the power of transformation in our homes, our countries, in our whole world.

 

Submitted by Sr. Claudia Holtz, Ursuline Leadership Team Member