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.

Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ, speaking on the depths of our faith experiences, concluded her address by remindindg those in religious life today that to say, “We believe in one God” and to lean our hearts on this God, is to hear a call to adventure. Richard Rohr, OFM encouraged leaders to fully develop the contemplative dimension of their lives so as to embrace this adventure with confidence and creativity.

LCWR president Mary Whited, CPPS continued this challenge to see with fresh eyes by drawing upon the lessons offered by the Old Testament midwives. She said, “If Puah and Shiprah were here today, I wonder what they might say to us to whom leadership has been entrusted. What new perspectives could they offer us in our attempts to lead our people? How would they support new life and stir hope in our congregations, our Church, the world, and, especially, in the places of ache and weariness within our own spirits? Surely they would encourage us. Surely they would remind us, ‘Tend the places where new life is stirring.’”

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.


  • Engaging Questions of Faith
    Three LCWR members; Eileen Campbell, RSM; Carroll Juliano, SHCJ; and Susan Schorsten, HM probe together many of the challenges offered by Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ at the recent LCWR-CMSM assembly
  • Contemplative Practices and Religious Life Leadership
    An interview with Nancy Sylvester, IHM on the critical role of contemplation for leaders as religious life moves into the future

    Learning from One Another
    Barbara Staropoli, SSJ and Phyllis McMurray, OSB reflect on the role of contemplation in their congregations

  • Tending to the Stirrings of New Life
    Some congregations are trying innovative approaches for tending to their communal life and mission

    Learning from One Another
    Donna Day, SL; Roberta Brich, CHM and Mary Rehmann, CHM; and Ruth Jackson, SVM share approaches to attending to the life of their congregations and where those paths are leading them.

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