The apostolic visitation gathered a large amount of data both through questionnaires and through the respectful listening that took place on the part of visitation teams as they conducted more than 90 onsite visits to various orders of women religious throughout the United States. We are pleased that this data, as well as the experiences, hopes, and dreams shared during the onsite visits, resulted in an accurate report of both the blessings of US women’s religious life as well as its challenges. The report, which conveys a good understanding of the transitions that have occurred in religious life since the Second Vatican Council, is offered without negative judgment or any facile solutions. Instead, the synthesis of data resulted in a realistic and appreciative account of women’s religious life in the United States.
We are grateful that each religious institute has been entrusted with discerning its way forward in fidelity to its mission in the church. We are confident that US women religious will carefully read and study the report, discuss it with others, and discern what its call is to their own institute. We believe that the report will become a basis for important conversations in our own communities, and in our work with the pastors of the church and the laity.
While the Vatican’s decision to conduct an apostolic visitation caused great pain and anxiety for many Catholic sisters, our members frequently speak of how our experience of the study became the source of profound transformation for our institutes. The process led us to study the heart of our vocation as we engaged one another in significant conversations that explored our spirituality, our mission, our communal life, and our hopes for the future. As we did so, our bonds with one another grew even deeper and our understanding of the potential of this life to serve the needs of the world grew even keener.
Sister Annmarie Sanders, IHM
Director of Communications