Saturday, June 1, 2013

Moving Forward in Hope

I had the opportunity this past week to participate in a program of the National Religious Vocation Conference. Held in Chicago, it was entitled Moving Forward in Hope. Sr. Mary Johnson SNDdeN gave the input sessions based on her research into the demographics of Catholics and of new entrants into religious life.
Mary's presentations were fascinating, diving deeply into the extensive information that is available, and exploring all that we can know about the present situation of religious life, with a particular emphasis on vocations to religious life.
The take away that I have is that there are lots of young catholic men and women who are deeply committed to the values of the Gospel, to living lives of service, to doing justice, to living sustainably and to developing a deep and nourishing spirituality. The question we all engaged was: how do we as religious women effectively reach out to these women and invite them to consider religious life? I think there are two prongs to this question:
  1. First we who are living religious life seek to provide the opportunity and space within our communities to welcome and nourish prospective members and newer and younger members in religious life. I believe that we do this by living authentically, justly and sustainably in vibrant communities committed to the Gospel.
  2. From this space, we can move out into circles and communities in the wider community, where people are doing justice, living sustainably and committing themselves to spirituality and service. There are lots of communities and groups that are working and living these values. 
Religious life is a particular way of living the Gospel that has enduring validity. Among the various ways of living with integrity and of living the Gospel, religious men and women come together to live simply in mutual interdependence. Vowed life in community is a graced response to the universal call to holiness.
I would invite anyone who feels called to religious life, or to explore a calling to contact me or some other religious community you know. It is a life that can be very enriching to those who live it and to those we serve.
We're initiating a conversation among religious women in their 40s or 50s would like to connect about building a future full of hope. Email me: if you would like to participate in the initial conversation - we're hoping to organize a gathering in summer of 2014.

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