Leadership Conference of Women Religious

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We ground all our actions in contemplation

Occasional Papers

The LCWR Occasional Papers is a journal published by the conference that offers articles and reflections on topics pertinent to women religious leaders. Copies of back issues may be purchased by contacting Carol Glidden at

Occasional Papers -- Winter 2017


This issue of Occasional Papers on “Living into Love” will focus on the call to explore the mystery of Love and increase our own capacity for inclusive love that compels us toward transformative action for the life of the world. Drawing on ideas and insights raised during the 2016 LCWR assembly, the articles will probe concepts on the transformation needed in the world today and the potential that a contemplative stance in life provides for unleashing the energy of inclusive love.

Summer 2016: Living Transformation


This issue of Occasional Papers on “Living Transformation” explores the multiple processes of transformation underway in the cosmos and on this planet and how our personal journeys intersect with these larger stories of transformation. Writers explore: What is it that the world needs from us as we individually and corporately undergo transformation – transformation of our understandings of life, of ourselves, and of religious life? Why does it matter that we fully participate in the processes of transformation as we are able?

Winter 2016: Living in Communion


This issue of Occasional Papers explores the period in religious life as one rich with potential for deep transformation. Although one could interpret the difficult changes being experienced within religious institutes today as a sign that this way of life is dying, these deep changes may also be seen as a way of preparing religious congregations for significant transformation. The articles in this issue provide assistance to religious with effectively navigating this period marked by large amounts of loss, relinquishment, and death. Such losses can become obstacles to the ability to re-imagine religious life for these times and the times ahead.

Summer 2015: Exploring the Great Deep


The focus of the Summer 2015 issue  of Occasional Papers springs from a concept put forward by Jesuit superior general, Fr. Adolfo Nicolás, SJ. While addressing those working in Jesuit higher education, Fr. Nicolás noted a phenomenon he named the “globalization of superficiality” that has risen due to our new capacities to access information; publish our opinions; be exposed to multiple options, values, and visions of life; and become “friends” with mere acquaintances or total strangers on social networks. These realities, he says, can lead us away from the painstaking work of serious, critical thinking; of forming communities of dialogue in search of truth and understanding; and of building true and meaningful relationships. To counter this globalization of superficiality, Fr. Nicolás speaks of a strong need to promote depth of thought, as well as imagination and creativity.

Winter 2015: Leadership in the Middle Space


In her address at the 2014 LCWR assembly Nancy Schreck, OSF explored the concept of living and ministering in what she termed “the middle space.”  As she noted, religious life is currently in a middle passage with “the in-breaking of something new, of major shifts in world view, our cosmology, with the concurrent breakdown of so much of what is familiar.” The Winter 2015 issue of Occasional Papers will explore the challenges of embracing religious life in the middle space and the potential of these times.

Summer 2014: Discernment


The Summer 2014 issue of Occasional Papers is dedicated to an exploration of discernment through many lenses, including what it means to discern in light of new understandings of the universe.

Winter 2014: The Cosmic Story: What Does it Have to Do with Religious Life?


New understandings of the cosmic story have clearly captured our attention. But what do these insights have to do with our everyday lives? The authors in this issue include women religious who are making the connections between the cosmic story and religious life, and particularly religious life leadership, as well as women religious from other cultures who are integrating the new insights into their lives and work in settings of great poverty and violence.

Summer 2013: Exploring the Richness of Fallow Time


As the season of Advent 2012 began, the LCWR officers wrote to the members about the doctrinal assessment of LCWR by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. They noted that they found themselves "in the praxis of advent, waiting for the word to come to us from God as we enter into listening and conversing." As the conference continues its commitment to communal and personal contemplation on the work of God in our midst, LCWR offers this next issue of Occasional Papers as a reflection on living in fallow time. The articles and interviews are resources for exploring the riches and depths of this collectively quieter, more still time for the conference. The content focuses on the work of the Spirit, communal discernment, and on what both scripture and nature can teach us about fallow time. Writers also explore Joanna Macy’s "empowering shifts in perception" and how they may influence the exercise of leadership in these times.

Winter 2013: Evolutionary Leadership


This issue provides materials for further reflection on many of the significant events and movements in the lives of US women religious in recent years. These include the emphasis on intentional contemplation, greater awareness of the universe story, the apostolic visitation, the doctrinal assessment of LCWR, and all the dynamics that go with these events. How are women religious sensing a new consciousness of the significance of religious life in these times? How are religious sensing a shift in their own self-definition as religious and their understanding of what religious life can potentially be? The issue also provides a means for reflecting on the church’s "Year of Faith" and the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. How is the fidelity of religious to the call of Vatican II fidelity to the invitation to evolutionary leadership in a living church?

Summer 2012: Leadership and the Evolution of Consciousness


Humanity finds itself in the midst of an explosion of new understandings of the universe, as well as an increasingly polarized world of political, ecclesial, and ideological tensions. Where do we find God in this? To what are women religious being called in light of these realities? What is the specific call to those entrusted with leadership at this time? This issue of Occasional Papers will explore these questions and more.

Winter 2012: Behold, I am Doing Something New... Can You Not Perceive It?


This issue of Occasional Papers focuses on how we take in new information and create an openness for seeing and understanding “the new” which God is doing. What does it take to live in the world today where much of what seemed certain and secure is no longer such, and where divisions in ways of thinking and perceiving seem to be separating us? What are the unique challenges to religious leaders during these times? How can women religious leaders best engage their members in inquiries that stretch their capacity to be transformed by new learning and new ways of comprehending the action of God?

Winter 2011: Behold, I am Doing Something New


Members of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious have embarked on a corporate contemplative process to help shape religious life as it moves into the future in ways that are responsive to the realities emerging in the world and church.

Summer 2011: Leadership and Creative Tension


US women religious leaders are navigating tumultuous waters these days as they respond to numerous challenges before them – whether those challenges are within their own institutes, their ministries, the church, or in the local and global realities that surround them. These are days that can be ridden with anxiety as leaders hold on to a vision for their institutes while dealing with daily realities that can cause them to question if the vision is still worth its cost. If leaders choose to move toward a vision while at the same time honestly acknowledging the realities of these times, they generate what is called “creative tension.”

Winter 2010: Hope in the Midst of Darkness


This issue of Occasional Papers attempts to explore some of the challenges and questions religious life leaders face as they explore what it means to search for the limitless possibilities of God and courageously believe in a different future. Experienced leaders share what they have learned about living with profound hope in uncertain times. In addition, four younger women religious write with great candor about their convictions and questions regarding religious life as it moves into an unknown future.

Summer 2010: Prophetic and Imaginative Leadership


In August 2006, Walter Brueggemann wrote, “In the ancient world of the Old Testament, prophetic imagination ... conjured a better world that extended mercy and justice to the weak and marginalized. In our contemporary world, prophetic imagination can do no less. Its task — neither conservative nor liberal — is to expose and critique the false ideologies of consumer militarism and to propose a better world of neighborly justice and mercy. As in the ancient world, so now in our contemporary world, such practice — rooted in old texts and memories —requires courage, freedom, and daring, nothing less than the work of voicing and enacting the world anew... according to the holiness of God.”

Winter 2009: Tending the Stirrings of New Life


The 2008 LCWR-CMSM assembly provided a rich feast for reflection on religious life leadership. The major speakers encouraged leaders to face the realities and challenges of religious life today, but to do so from a perspective of imagination and creativity, believing that this time is ripe for change and growth ... This issue of Occasional Papers tends to the stirring of new life in LCWR member congregations. We invite you to read the pages that follow and be attentive to the life stirring in you that may be inviting your attention.

Summer 2009: Creating in Chaos; Unearthing the Potential of Uncertain Times


When the 2009 LCWR Assembly Planning Committee chose in September of last year to focus the assembly on the chaos of these times, little did they know the additional chaos that awaited! The ground has been shifting dramatically during the ensuing months, making the need to live with trust, hope, and creativity ever more urgent. In this issue of the Occasional Papers, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious calls upon its members and colleagues to offer insights and wisdom on what one writer terms “the balancing act of exercising non-anxious leadership without holding out false or premature security.” The writers suggest that these rapidly changing times may be just the impetus vowed religious need to find even deeper and more meaningful ways of living our charism and mission. They also offer invaluable suggestions for how leaders may bring their institutes to these new places.

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