Leadership Conference of Women Religious

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2021 LCWR Assembly

LCWR President Elise García, OP
LCWR President Elise García, OP
Keynoter Mercedes Leticia Casas Sánchez, FSPS
Keynoter Mercedes Leticia Casas Sánchez, FSPS

The Realm of Transformation: Creating Space for the Future

August 11, 12, 13, 2021

LCWR has invited representatives from several organizations serving religious life to participate in this assembly. In addition, every institute has the opportunity to bring one or two guests. The following information is for those guests. A translation of this text is available as a PDF document.

Religious life leaders today are steeped in important work around responding to the pressing issues of these times, visioning new ways to live their institute’s mission and charism, care for members, governance structures, sustainability matters, land use, and much more. Within such demanding challenges also lie deep invitations to transformation. Divine Mystery is alive and continuously alluring us to new possibilities.

This year’s LCWR assembly offers opportunities for us to look collectively at the realities of this historic moment to hear the whispers of the Spirit beckoning us to something more. How might we hold the chaos and uncertainty of this moment for the world, the nation, and religious life and, within its mystery, see what God is calling us to be today and into the future? 

As we planned this year’s assembly, we asked: What can we do at a virtual assembly that we cannot do at an in-person assembly? One answer is that we could accommodate more participants. As LCWR seeks to broaden and diversify the voices we listen to, this virtual assembly seems the perfect opportunity to invite many more people to join us. As you will see below, you are invited as leadership teams to assist in this effort to expand participation by bringing one or two others to the assembly. We hope you will give serious consideration to this opportunity since the presence of multiple stakeholders in religious life will surely enrich the quality of this assembly. 

Aware of the toll this pandemic has taken on religious life leaders and the very real experience of “Zoom fatigue,” our aim is to make this assembly experience as gentle and enjoyable as possible for you. We will build in time for prayer and reflection, use contemplative dialogue processes, and provide enough breaks so that you can feel rested. We know that you will want to be at your best in order to fully receive the rich input of speakers, participate wholeheartedly in breakout session conversations, and bring your voice to the national discernment on religious life. 

We encourage you to find ways to make these three days yours. If possible, treat them as you would if you were away for an in-person assembly and do not schedule other meetings or work. Last year some leadership teams went away together for the days of the assembly and found that the change of venue helped them participate fully in the experience and return home renewed. Wherever you decide to participate from, we encourage you to create the time and space you need for the enrichment the assembly promises to provide. 

Also, please remember that you need to have access to your own device (computer, iPad, tablet, etc.) throughout the assembly so that you can participate as an individual in the breakout sessions. We cannot make accommodations for groups of people to be in a breakout session together. You also cannot register as a leadership team. Each person will have to register individually.  

Keynote Speaker

This assembly will feature Daughter of the Holy Spirit of Mexico, Mercedes Leticia Casas Sánchez, as the keynote speaker. For those who have participated in events of the Confederation of Latin American Religious (CLAR), Mercedes is well-known for her leadership, wisdom, and creativity, having served as CLAR president. After completing her term in community leadership, Mercedes was invited by the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life to join its staff in 2018 in Rome where she now resides. She will bring a wealth of experience as a seasoned leader in religious life and will expand our horizons as she addresses us from her rich, global perspective. 

Mercedes will address the assembly in her native language, Spanish, and we will provide simultaneous interpretation in English. Translation equipment will be available to any participant who wishes to use it.


Each day the assembly exhibit hall will open at 12:00 ET and participants are encouraged to visit the exhibitors. Each day also includes a one-hour break. We encourage you to take that time for yourself and do whatever most refreshes you and provides time for you to reflect on what you are experiencing. The exhibit hall will also be open during that break and it is a good time to engage with the exhibitors who are eager to meet and interact with you.

Wednesday, August 11

Session One (1:00 - 3:00 PM ET)

  • Welcome
  • Ritual to Open the Assembly
  • Orientation to the Virtual Assembly
  • Contemplative Pause
  • Introductions in Small Groups

Session Two (4:00 - 6:00 PM ET)

  • Presidential Address – Elise García, OP
  • Conversation with Elise and LCWR Members:  Josita Colbert, SNDdeN; Pascazia Kinkuhaire, DMI; Linda Romney, OSB
  • Contemplative Pause
  • Processing in Small Groups
  • Meaning-Making (Real-time interaction)

Thursday, August 12

Session One (1:00 - 3:00 PM ET)

  • Keynote Address – Mercedes Leticia Casas Sánchez, FSPS
  • Conversation with Mercedes and LCWR Members: Ricca Dimalibot, CCVI; Monica Gundler, SC;  Mary Thomas, PBVM
  • Contemplative Pause
  • Processing in Small Groups
  • Meaning-Making (Real-time interaction)

Session Two (4:00 - 6:00 PM ET)

  • Presentation of Lifetime Achievement Awards: Joyce Meyer, PBVM; Amata Miller, IHM; Helen Prejean, CSJ
  • “Creating Space for the Future”: Personal Testimonies from LCWR Members: Cecilia Canales, OP; Pushpa Gomes, CSC; Maureen Erdlen, SSJ  
  • Contemplative Pause
  • Processing in Small Groups
  • Meaning-Making (Real-time interaction)

Friday, August 13

Session One (1:00 - 3:00 PM ET)

  • Discerning Our Emerging Future: Next Steps
  • Contemplative Pause
  • Processing

Session Two (4:00 - 6:00 PM ET)

  • Presentation of the LCWR Outstanding Leadership Award: Patricia Chappell, SNDdeN
  • Contemplative Pause
  • Making a Commitment to the Future
  • Blessing of LCWR Leadership and Sending Forth of All Participants

Assembly Guests

Guests from Religious Institutes

The virtual assembly platform allows us to include wider participation in this year’s assembly. 

Each religious institute has the option of inviting two additional participants to the entire assembly. The hope is that these participants will be persons who have a passion for the mission of religious life and are interested in helping to shape its future. These participants may be women religious, members of the institute’s staff, colleagues in ministry, or anyone else that the institute feels would both benefit from the assembly experience and would bring a valuable voice to the table. The leaders of each institute will determine who they wish to invite. If it is possible for the religious institute to pay the $300 registration fee for each guest, it would help defray the costs of the assembly. If this is not possible, a donation to LCWR that is manageable for the institute is sufficient.

Guests from Organizations

In addition, LCWR will be inviting the Association of Latin American Missionary Sisters (AHLMA), Giving Voice, and the National Black Sisters Conference (NBSC) to each send 50 sisters to this gathering. They will join guests from the many other organizations serving religious life. 

During the assembly all the guests will participate in the breakout session discussions – sometimes in groups with the LCWR members and other times in groups with the other guests, depending upon the topics. Since this assembly will require a large number of table facilitators, the guests are also welcome to volunteer for this role.

Table Facilitators Needed

The assembly will incorporate contemplative processing so that participants may collectively listen carefully for the movement of God’s Spirit among them. Processing will be especially directed to assisting members to find meaning in their own ministry of leadership as well as empowering them to support their own institute members find meaning in this era of significant challenge and change. We are looking for participants (leaders, invited guests, professional facilitators) willing to serve as facilitators at their tables. If you are open to serving in this way, please indicate this on your registration form. Table facilitators need to participate in one of the three 75-minute orientations online on July 15, July 22, or August 3rd from 2:00 pm - 3:15 pm EDT.  Table facilitators must indicate which meeting they would prefer to attend as they complete the online registration process. Guests are most welcome to volunteer to serve as facilitators.

In Service of the Assembly

Debbie Asberry will serve as the assembly facilitator. Debbie is a senior consultant in leadership development, organizational culture and process consultation for CommunityWorks Inc. Her primary emphasis is in working with complex systems as they seek to find innovative ways to navigate emergence, uncertainty and unpredictability.  

Kathy Fletcher Wray will serve as the assembly liturgist. She is the coordinator of worship and director of the St. Joseph Spirituality Center for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Baden, Pennsylvania.

Visit the Exhibitors

The virtual assembly will include our exhibitors. You will receive information about how to visit them and we encourage you to make the time to do so, particularly since their participation in our assemblies makes a significant financial contribution to LCWR. The exhibit space will be open for one hour prior to the start of each day (i.e., 12:00 PM Eastern) and during the one-hour break in between the sessions each day. In some cases you will be able to speak with those staffing the exhibit, in addition to viewing their displays and making purchases. 


All registration will be handled by Nix Conference & Meeting Management. Guests will receive a link to use for their registration.

The registration fee is $300 per person for the three-day assembly if registered by June 20. $350.00 per person if registered between June 21 – July 15. The fee will be paid to Nix by credit card or check. Registration CLOSES on July 15.

Registrations need to be made individually including your email address. You will need to create a password that you will need to log on to the virtual meeting platform for each session.