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Leadership Conference of Women Religious

Posted 8/31/2021

The Realm of Transformation: Creating Space for the Future

Welcoming around 1000 people from the United States and 14 other countries, the Leadership Conference focused on exploring dismantling racism and reimagining religious life for new times.

Taking advantage of the virtual platform again this year, the LCWR presidency (Srs. Elise Garcia, OP, Jane Herb, IHM, Jayne Helmlinger, CSJ and executive director, Sr. Carol Zinn, welcomed an unusual group of guests. Guests were from the National Black Sisters Conference, the Association of Latin American Missionary Sisters, Giving Voice, Nuns and Nones, the Leadership Collaborative and more. Each congregation also had the opportunity to invite two people to join in the conversations.

Following the opening ritual, Sister Elise Garcia shared her presidential address drawing upon contemplative Sister Constance FitzGerald, OCD and theologian Shawn Copeland to call women religious to “carve deeper grooves of conscious relationality in evolution by:


• Learning and telling the truth of our history
• Dismantling artificial constructs of race and caste
• Knowing Christ crucified through the dark wisdom of the enslaved
• Walking the talk of our radical relationality as women religious

Keynote speaker Sister Mercedes L. Casas Sanchez, FSPS spoke of “Creating Space for the Future” looking at what is essential in our lives and what sustains us. She proposed:

• Being women of the Spirit, moved by a law of freedom
• Giving new meaning to our communal life
• Creating spaces to transform the mission, creativity and collaboration
• Creating spaces for hope
• Revisiting the signs

Sister Mercedes said in part “What today sustains us and helps us to withstand the night that we have long been experiencing, will not be the longing for the past, but rather a hopeful, faithful and loving focus on the future.”

Following each presentation, a panel of three responded offering their insights to the challenges posed by the speakers. On the second day, three LCWR members gave testimony on the transformative experiences they have encountered in leadership. As demographics rapidly shift the conference continued discussion of the emerging future of religious life and finding new ways to be supportive, and collaborative.

The Lifetime Achievement Awards were bestowed on three women religious, Sisters Helen Prejean, CSJ, Joyce Meyer, PVBM, and Amata Miller, IHM.

The conference began with a rite of repentance acknowledging the complicity of racism and praying for forgiveness to all those harmed by actions of racism committed today and through the centuries. A very moving and powerful experience led by the leadership.