Let Us Be Living Sankofas by Sharlet Wagner, CSC -- LCWR Past-President
While I was living in Ghana I discovered the rich world of symbol in that country’s history and culture. One of the Ghanaian symbols that spoke to me deeply was the Sankofa, a word meaning literally, “Go back and get it.” The Sankofa (pronounced SAN-koh-fah) symbol is a bird with an egg held gently in its beak. The bird’s feet and body are facing forward, while its head is turned, looking backward.
Just after Easter, as I sat looking out my bedroom window, I could see the signs of spring vividly blooming in the bougainvillea, gazanias, hibiscus, and many other flowers whose names I don’t know! This beauty was a bit disquieting to me as I sat with the growing river of feelings that continually swirl within.
The topic most capturing my attention these days is intercultural living. Our congregation has long had women from other-than-the- dominant culture entering, specifically, Chinese, Filipina, and Latina. These women were the minority within their “bands” and assimilated into the congregational culture over the years.
Emmanuel, God-With-Us, Here and Now, Today and Tomorrow
by Carol Zinn, SSJ - LCWR Executive Director
As I’ve journeyed through these Advent days of holy waiting and watching, preparing for the feast of the Incarnation with eyes focused on a new calendar year filled with Epiphanies, the experience of the 2019 LCWR Assembly remains with me. The speakers and processes invited us to:
As we enter this season of Advent in hopeful expectation of the new life that Mary will soon birth, the nations of the world gather in Madrid for their 25th year of climate talks, with the window for meaningful action fast closing.
As I sit down to write this column, it has been one month since our wonderful assembly in Scottsdale. Since that time, I’ve been in numerous energizing and stimulating dialogues about all that transpired during those short, yet impactful days together.
As I reflect on this past year as president-elect for LCWR, I’m filled with gratitude. Clearly, as religious life leaders, we live in a time that provides numerous opportunities for deep transformation of ourselves and our institutes. As I reflect on this year, some key words surface: listening, engaging, energizing, expansive, communion, letting go, and leaning in.
Canon law is not a topic that typically causes the eyes of women religious to light up. It is generally seen as dry and dogmatic, with a focus more on rules than on spirit and heart. I recently told some of our sisters that I find a great deal of wisdom and inspiration in the Code of Canon Law. They looked at me in a way that suggests they were mentally making plans to have me assessed for early-onset dementia!
Holy Mystery. Sacred Presence. All-Embracing, Creator God. Gracious Sprit. Womb of all Life. Ever-Gracing, Most Wondrous God. In this moment, in our being, we are One. We are One. -- Monica Brown, "Holy Mystery"
I write this column from my bedroom at our convent in Kyarusozi, Uganda, where I am visiting our sisters who minister at a rural health center. Uganda’s fertile soil and natural beauty have earned it the nickname “the Pearl of Africa.” But that natural beauty lives side-by-side with tremendous poverty, a result of colonialism, corruption, and years of warfare.
Living the questions. It is what I find myself doing these days. No matter if I’m attending a regional LCWR meeting or LCWR board meeting, being an observer at the USCCB assembly, or engaging in dialogue with sisters in my own congregation, questions abound. Questions about our “life” as women religious, questions about nationalism, racism, polarization, climate change, immigration and migration, just to name a few, occupy my prayers, thoughts, conversations, and dreams.
I know that the slow work of God about which Teilhard de Chardin wrote so eloquently really refers to the activity of grace or the glacier-like pace of evolution and human development. But if he had to extricate himself out of my office after 10 years of congregational leadership I’m pretty sure he’d include that in the lexicon of things that constitute the slow work of God. I know I do.
The campus minister of a Catholic women’s college invited me to speak in April to a group of students. He explained that young women are leaving the church in large numbers, and the campus ministry staff hears students question why women should remain part of this institution. He asked me to speak to why the Catholic Church needs women, and why women need the Catholic Church.