Leadership Conference of Women Religious

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Discernment on the Future of Religious Life

Discerning Our Emerging Future is an initiative created by LCWR to support institutes of women religious as we explore together how collectively to organize for mission at a time of dramatic change. The initiative provides a path into the future marked by collaboration and creativity, as well as support and solidarity.

The accelerated pace of change in religious institutes points to an urgent need to work across religious institutes to create new sustainable structures that assure a future for religious life. Leaders are strongly urged to seriously consider the implications of the current reality of large numbers of aging members in religious communities, along with the entrance into religious orders in the United States of approximately 200 women each year. There is a clear call to our generation of leaders to create new ways to organize the body of US women religious for mission and service.

Discernment Processes for Spring 2021

During spring 2021, all LCWR members are asked to watch the video below that introduces them to the document. "What We Are Seeing." The document is a summary and analysis of what LCWR has learned in the period of August 2020 through January 2021 in the conference’s Discerning Our Emerging Future Initiative. . 

This document and process is translated in Spanish as an attachment below.

Lean In Toward the Light (Session 1)

In May, LCWR members participated in one of two 75-minute sessions about the experience of newer members in religious life. Following input from Debbie Borneman, SSCM, executive director of the National Religious Vocation Conference; Ellen Dauwer, SC, executive director of the Religious Formation Conference; and Erin McDonald, CSJ and Kathryn Press, ASCJ, core team members of Giving Voice, participants met in small group and then shared their insights in the large group. A recording of the prayer, panel and large group feedback follows is available (video: "Lean In Toward the Light- Session 1"), as well as a process for unpacking the key points of the session (attachment "Process for Lean In Toward the Light - Session 1" below).

Lean In Toward the Light (Session 2)

In June, LCWR members participated in a roundtable where they heard from three current leaders: Yesenia Fernandez, MGSpS; Constance Phelps, SCL; and Vicki Larson, PBVM as they reflected on what they heard in the May roundtable session about the experience of newer members in religious life. Each leader brings her unique perspective to the challenges and opportunities of leadership and invites us to think in new ways about leadership possibilities now and for the future. A recording of this session (video: "Lean In Toward the Light- Session 2") as well as a process for unpacking the key points of the session (attachment "Process for Lean In Toward the Light - Session 2" below).

Orientation for the 2021 LCWR Assembly 

In this 15-minute video, the members of the LCWR Discerning the Emerging Future Planning Group provide an overview of the national discernment process that began in late 2014. We recommend that anyone attending the 2021 assembly acquaint themselves with this process in order to be able to fully participate in the session on this process that will take place on Friday, August 13. (See video below.) 

Orientation for 2021 LCWR Assembly Session on the National Discernment
Lean in Toward the Light - Roundtable Session 2
Lean in Toward the Light - Roundtable Session 1
Report on What We Are Seeing