Saturday, May 12, 2012

Thank You Sister

   As most of my blog readers know the Vatican recently came down hard on the LCWR (Leadership Conference of Women Religious). This group represents roughly 80% of the sisters in the USA.  They cited doctrinal and other concerns.  I was upset by this and it has taken time for me to understand just why I was upset.  I have signed two statements that have circulated in support of the sisters.  Before writing here I wanted to go beyond merely being anglry and to say something constructive.

   Ask yourself, "Do I know any sisters?  What are they doing?" Obviously there are fewer of them than there were forty years ago.  While many of them are still involved in education or hospital administration they have branched out into other directions.  I am close to three sisters from different communities who are in parish ministry.  They do everything a priest does except for celebrating the Sacraments.  They are well-respected and appreciated for bringing a feminine perspective to parish ministry.  Others are spiritual directors.  They are well trained and sought after for this important service.  Still others are working with the poor, with victims of aids, in prisons, in shelters for the homeless. Others minister to battered women and children. The list goes on. They are prayerful, hard-working women.  So why this decision to order the conference to re-organize?

    I just finished attending a three day fraternal gathering with some friars of my province. These are sessions where our provincial leaders meet with groups of friars to talk about our life. One thing we discussed was the importance of walking with and accompanying our people as brothers.  This comes first before preaching and teaching.  We can't preach and teach if we do not know the experience of the people we serve. We need to listen to their stories. It seems to me that most of the sisters do this very well and that is the basis for many of their positions which concern the folks in the Vatican.  It also seems to me that the highest levels of leadership in the Church do not walk with and accompany those the serve.  The issue decrees and mete out punishment first.

   To be fair they may be some areas of concern, some out of line things that have gone on, but most of the sisters are not guilty of these things.  Perhaps if the people in the Vatican had called the president of LCWR and said, "Let's talk. Let's hear what you are doing these days.  Tell us your stories," things might have been different.

   I try to keep this blog positive.  I don't want it to be a protest forum but I felt that this needed to be said. To end on a positive note please approach any sister that you may know and say, "Thank You!"

1 comment:

  1. You are so totally on the mark! Last weekend, our parish did a special blessing for the sisters who are part of our community -- several dozen, from a variety of congregations. After Communion, at every liturgy, the sisters were asked to come forward to receive the thanks of us all, and a special blessing with everyone present extending hands. What a great response to the crazy "investigation." Celebrate and thank the faithful women religious around us!