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       The Leadership Conference of Women Religious in the USA

Sister Elizabeth Ann Vasquez, provincial councillor, shares a few echoes of the national assembly of the LCWR in the USA. Every August, the LCWR holds a national assembly of its members. The organization is made up of Catholic Women Religious who are leaders in their Congregations in the USA.

Communities in the LCWR represent 80 percent of the nearly 50,000 women religious in the USA. Nearly 800 of the group’s 1,500 members gathered for this year’s annual conference from the United States and the world, including Europe, Africa, Canada, Asia and Australia. This gathering provides members with opportunities for education, reflection on issues pertinent to religious life leadership, networking, prayer and celebration.

The 2015 LCWR assembly took place in Houston, Texas, from August 11-14, under the theme : “Springs of the Great Deep Burst Forth : Meeting the Thirsts of the World".

This year, we were happy that Sr. AnneChapell was able to join the Provincial Council : Sr. Cornelia Marie Knezek, Sr. Elizabeth Ann Vasquez, and Sr. Francisca Alemán to meet and dialogue with women religious in the USA.

Over the years, women religious have been drawn to live more deeply out of a contemplative stance. This stance leads us to explore the world with a vision that penetrates below the surface and draws wisdom and insight from those great depths. The assembly theme, “Springs of the Great Deep Burst Forth : Meeting the Thirsts of the World” comes in part from the account of the creation of the world in Genesis 7:11. As the Israelites named the enormous reservoir of water that they believed was beneath the surface of the earth “The Great Deep”, so the same name is used for the reservoir of wisdom that we believe can be accessed through living a life of contemplation.

Previous gatherings had been held under the cloud of an apostolic visitation and a doctrinal assessment. Both investigations ended in the past year. In a visit of the LCWR officials with Pope Francis on April 16, 2015, the Pope expressed profound gratitude for the lives and ministries of the US women religious.

Sr. Janet Mock, in a keynote address, said : “What you must offer, however, is your charism and the wisdom that has come from the years your sisters have practiced the congregational virtues that shape your charism. … We, like the flute, are a small instrument in the orchestra of the cosmos – very small and very significant. Let us never stop playing our part.” In another conference, Father Stephen Bevans, SVD, spoke of thirst as a grace, as a yearning for something more – a yearning that can lead to growth. He spoke of four thirsts – the thirst for the water of integrity, the wine of hope, the nectar of justice, and the elixir of beauty.

In their final words of encouragement to the congregation leaders in attendance, Sr. Janet and Fr. Stephen encouraged us to “keep on keeping on”. “You’re leading in extremely difficult times,” Sr. Janet said. “But you are the women to do it. Trust in that.”

Sr. Elizabeth Ann Vasquez, sscj

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