Leadership Conference of Women Religious

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Summer 2019: Our Search for Meaning

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The Summer 2019 issue of Occasional Papers is entitled Our Search for Meaning. A document created by LCWR several years ago, “Dimensions of Leadership,” notes that an essential part of spiritual leadership is “an ability to connect the richness of the inner world with the significant challenges and movements of a given time. The symbolic/meaning–making dimension attends to urgent human longings for God, wholeness, meaning and harmony.”

Women religious are increasingly experiencing a call to join with others in this search for meaning. With so much in flux in the world today and with all the ambiguity and uncertainty in our life experiences, being able to find and articulate meaning is an essential component for a healthy and fruitful life.

This issue of Occasional Papers explores some of the significant changes occurring in religious life and the seeds of newness that are appearing – such as the growing intercultural make-up of congregations, the greater sense of an intercongregational religious life, the draw of young adults to women religious in experiences of shared meaning and belonging, as well as all the efforts to right-size our communities to our new realities. The issue also includes reflections by individuals from different fields on how they find meaning: Walter Brueggemann; Margaret Farley, RSM; Edwina Gately; Anthony Gittens, CPPS; Katie Gordon; Nicholas Kristoff; Courtney E. Martin; Jim Martins, SJ; Cokie Roberts; Mary Southard, CSJ; and Jean Stokan.


  • The Role of Meaning-Making in Transitional Times - Ted Dunn, PhD explores how leaders may attend to the work of meaning-making, particularly in times of transition
  • Living from the Large Questions - Eleven public figures share how they find purpose and meaning in the events of the world and in their own lives

    Nicholas Kristof:  Encountering the Best of Humanity
    James Martin, SJ:  What Do I Have to Do?
    Courtney E. Martin:  Resist Narrowing
    Cokie Roberts:  Every Change Becomes a Question
    Edwina Gately:  The Seed of God Continues to Gestate in Me
    Jean Stokan:  It's About a Great Love Story
    Katie Gordon:  Saying YES to a Deeper Call Within
    Margaret Farley, RSM:  Meaning, Ideas, and Hopes
    Mary Southard, CSJ:  Stepping into the Flow
    Walter Brueggemann:  The Courage to Imagine
    Anthony Gittins, CSSp:  Living in Harmony with Difference

  • Interculturality:  Challenges and Gifts for Religious Life - Elizabeth Ann Guerrero, MCDP looks at the growing cultural diversity among members of religious communities
  • An Intercongregational Religious Life:  Exploring the Connections Among Us - Kristin Matthes, SNDdeN considers the movement to live religious life across the borders of congregations
  • Nuns & Nones:  A Shared Search for Meaning - Adam S. Horowitz offers a vision for rich and deep collaboration between women religious and our partners
  • Rightsizing:  A Call to the Future - Stephanie Still, PBVM explores how rightsizing releases new energy for future planning
  • Listening for Meaning:  An Examen - Regina Bechtle, SC offers questions to help us find meaning in our daily lives
  • For Your Reflection - Ideas for unpacking the insights of these authors and interviewees


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