Leadership Conference of Women Religious

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Winter 2020: Leading with Moral Imagination

Price: $5.00

The 2020 issue of Occasional Papers derives its title, Leading with Moral Imagination, from the work of John Paul Lederach. He states that moral imagination “develops a capacity to perceive things beyond and at a deeper level than what initially meets the eye. It has a capacity to give birth to something new that in its very birthing changes our world and the way we see things.” (The Moral Imagination, p. 27) Lederach uses the word “moral” to refer to that which is great and beckons us to rise toward something beyond what is apparent and visible; while he speaks of “imagination” as the art of creating what does not yet exist.

Clearly, this is a time in religious life where we need to keep our focus on that which the world needs that is great but perhaps not yet apparent, as well as on what we, as religious, might help create so as to bring about what the world most needs. 

In this issue of Occasional Papers, we explore what this challenge means for those in religious life today. How does the call to lead with moral imagination impact how leadership in religious life is taking place, or how we might like to see it taking place? We know that this type of leadership may differ from religious life leadership that served well in the past. How might we reshape our understandings of leadership and the role of religious life for these times? The issue features an interview with John Paul Lederach, professor emeritus of international peacebuilding at the University of Notre Dame.


  • The Moral Imagination: Pathway for Transformation - Susan Rose Francois, CSJP explores the need for leaders to cross borders in order for the new to emerge
  • Developing the Capacity to Birth Something New - in an interview, John Paul Lederach shares his insights about leadership and moral imagination
  • Drawing Wisdom from Our Professions - Three LCWR Members share how they apply experience from their professions to the challenge of religious life leadership

    Judy Donovan, CSJ: Employing 'Prophetic Imagination'
    Adele O'Sullivan, CSJ: Listening in the Deeper Places
    Mary Reap, IHM: Sailing into Headwinds with Hope and Determination

  • A Wedge of Artistic Elegance - Barbara Mullen, CSJ reflects on how the arts have made a difference in her leadership ministry
  • The Gospel, Leadership, and Serendipty - Margaret A. Palliser, OP looks at how Jesus learned to adapt to shifting realities while also imagining alternative possibilities
  • Leadership Through the Lens of the Paschal Mystery - Mary Anne Foley, CND explores how the cycle of dying and rising helps us make meaning of these times
  • Using Imagination in Religious Life Leadership Today - LCWR members share experiences that stirred their imagination and led them to create something new

    Maureen Geary, OP
    Pat Cormack, SCSC
    Maryann A. McMahon, OP
    Sandra Sherman, OSU
    Mary Beth Kubera, DC
    Kathleen Bryant, RSC

  • For Your Reflection - Ideas for unpacking the insights of these authors and interviewee
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