Chris sang a message that resonated in our bodiesSr. Liz Sweeney (Philadelphia) guided LCWR in its contemplative dialogue processes this year. Through communal contemplation, deepening groups, and powerful whole group sharing among those gathered, we were able to experience a depth of emotions, often described as beyond words. Liz closed out the process of the meeting by reminding those present that fields of energy experienced at LCWR were available to them beyond this moment. They could tap back into them and feel it in their heart and body. She ended by saying, “We are on the threshold of a brand new horizon.”

It was a very different LCWR this year. Our first speaker, Chris Pramuk led the LCWR through his musings that music is a metaphor for our spiritual journey. He performed African spirituals so that we could experience their power to open us to one another and become as sacraments, instruments of real presence. Those present experience the difference that music sung in a minor key can make. Those African spiritualties sung in minor keys speak of the grief of the past and the present and ask a question both hopeful and uncertain of the future. It is in that hope and uncertainty that resonates with our human experience and struggles and seemed to be an apt metaphor for LCWR’s current situation. Click here to read Chris’s presentation.

Deepening groups allowed a time for contemplative sharingJan Richardson poignantly shared how she grieved the sudden and unexpected death of her beloved husband. She spoke of the river that connects all the grief and sorrow of the world. Although it takes a particular form for each of us individually she noted that it is a part of our common life. She encouraged us to stay with the sorrow and the love underneath the sorrow so that our hearts can become more open than we could imagine. 

And then Sr. Mary Pellegrino (Baden), President of LCWR, challenged us to disrupt the old narrative- the old story about diminishment in religious life with the new story that is more complete, telling both our historical accomplishments and our failures and our emerging sense of communion. There is a new vitality in religious life and it is global. The diversity in ethnic make-up and country of origin of sisters in the US and globally is changing. As we grow in communion, there is much for us to learn.

Sr. Mary Pellegrino addresses LCWRMary reassured us, “Our future has already entered us, is already transforming itself in us. Our work in this house is to let the former things pass so that the future – already in our blood – can happen… I believe that tending our grief over our own many and great losses and over the heartbreak of the world, clinging to the gossamer-thin veil at this threshold between loss and revelation and inviting others to do that with us is one of the most generous and generative acts of service that we could possibly render for our grieving sisters, for our hurting neighbors, for our broken world.” Click here to read Mary’s entire presentation.

A panel of four younger leaders responding to what they had heard offered their thoughts that perhaps the key may be faithfulness to the present moment. If the future is already coursing through our veins we can recognize what must be done now. We must be responsive to the imperative of transforming love and do so by embracing diversity and living with deep respect. People are waiting to be invited to sit at tables with us- and there is a richness of diverse wisdom we have yet to hear.

Ending with a process called Crystalizing Vision and Intention, those present allowed what was bubbling up to be shared among the group. And as Liz reminded us, we can tap back into those emotions and recognize that we are at a brand new horizon.