LCWR Outstanding Leadership Award Recipient -- Theresa Kane, RSM
Acceptance Response of Theresa Kane, RSM Recipient of the 2004 LCWR Outstanding Leadership Award
LCWR Assembly – August 2004
Fort Worth, Texas
I come before you this evening as one woman blessed indeed to be among you! It is with profound gratitude, pride and humility that I joyously accept this moment of recognition. When Sr. Carole Shinnick called to invite me to accept the award and to be here this evening, my sentiments at that moment and my sentiments throughout these months were that other leaders among us are more deserving of this moment than I. I know from personal experience the strength, the inspiration and the extraordinary courage some of our leaders have evidenced. So for other leaders who deserve this award and in gratitude to so many LCWR women who have gifted me through the years, I accept it.
As I speak with you for a few moments this evening, I am in awe of the gifts I am privileged to have in our midst tonight. They are: members of my family–my sister and my niece; Sisters of Mercy friends; our present Mercy leadership at the Regional and Institute levels; women from other congregations; former LCWR members; special friends and colleagues; the former LCWR Presidents and Executive Directors and so many other human vessels of God’s Presence and Grace in my life. I cannot express adequately the awe I have for the extraordinary LCWR Staff–Srs. Carole Shinnick, Annmarie Sanders, Eleanor Granger, Suzanne Delaney and their colleagues. Each of these women has received and befriended me with such Gospel care and attention. They remind me of precious gems that we so need to continue to treasure.
In those years and continuing through today, the critical, sacred, social justice issues of women, of poverty in all its forms in our world today, world peace, non violence and care for our earth have shaped and influenced LCWR gatherings. These sacred causes of social justice have become an integral part of our vision for the 21st Century, which is itself God’s sacred gift to us. How blessed we are to have LCWR, a dynamic, influential, significant ecclesial community!
In 1979 when, as President of LCWR, I was privileged to extend greetings to Pope John Paul II, my expression of concern about women being in all ministries of our Church came directly from the vision and formative education I had inherited from this Conference. Beginning in 1972 and continuing throughout the decade of the 1970's, the annual Assembly theme had been the role of women in church and society.
As I reflect upon our corporate experience as women religious, I believe a significant, radical shift has taken place. Our long, revered tradition of ministry has been to serve those most in need. We have done so throughout the centuries and have done it extraordinarily well. The major shift that occurred in the latter part of the 20th Century and into this 21st Century is that our service has assumed a new dimension. We are developing a consciousness to no longer view ourselves as women religious exclusively in service; we know and identify ourselves as women in solidarity with other women. We experience this solidarity as we acknowledge the painful realization that all women in church and in society are colonized, that all women are patronized, that all women are viewed as objects; that all women are conditioned and expected to be complementary. We need to acknowledge this reality without a severe judgment on ourselves, our church, our society. The conviction that women are called by nature and by grace to be significant primary agents of change in all aspects of church and society is a radical new insight not yet fully appreciated. The miracle of our times amidst the many forces pressing against respectful dignity, equality and agency for women is that we still continue to reach for the stars, to hold up the skies and the heavens as well!
As I receive your gift to me this evening, I share a gift of a vision I have for LCWR and for myself. The vision is threefold. It is: first, a passionate, lively radical commitment to the fullest development of women throughout our world–in church and in society; second, to work to eradicate war and the growing militarization of the planet while promoting a profound respect for our earth and our environment; and third to work with persons and organizations to direct our economic and human resources to the fullest development of peoples, to eradicate illiteracy, homelessness, refugee camps, hunger and poverty. Historians have documented that civilizations have existed and perdured without war and without massive poverty. The social situations of war and poverty are not of God. If we find ourselves complacent or helpless in the face of their existence, then indeed we have strange gods before us. Such idols replace the Presence of God in our times. So a vision of a new way of being compels us to live fully, to love tenderly, to play joyfully, to pray with a deep faith, to seek sacred justice, to walk in solidarity and humility with all peoples of our earth and in communion with our God. Our vision is of a loving, compassionate God who has created the universe, the planets, the earth, this global community. The Book of Wisdom, Chapter 2 relates the powerful belief that we are made in the very nature of God–women and men–the 6.2 billion people who inhabit this planet; Africans; Asians, Americans, North, South, Central; Europeans–and others–each and everyone one of us is an agent of God, an agent of a Supernatural Power and Being, however we name this Divine Presence.
Finally, a vision of fullness of life for all humanity propels us to continue to believe in the words our God has spoken through Holy Ones in the past. These words compel us to act with a conviction that nothing is impossible with God and that with God all things are possible. This vision of fullness of life will continue to energize and recreate us anew at every moment. This vision empowers us to proclaim our Magnificat in the 21st Century as Hannah and Mary did before us. The Magnificat prayer is itself a vision that God has done great things for us and God continues to do great things for us and through us. We are called to live our vision, our moment of mystery in this 21st Century with a profound peace and a deep conviction that with God’s grace, we can truly make all things new! My Friends, I carry this sacred evening always in my heart. Thank you.
Theresa Kane, RSM
Fort Worth Convention Center, Fort Worth, Texas