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By Diogenes ( articles ) | Jul 28, 2005

Though I am seldom impressed by Washington's Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, I can't help but applaud his announcement that he's given the green light to a new diocesan congregation of women.

A couple of years ago, a number of young women approached me with the idea of establishing a diocesan community of women here in Washington, which would serve the faithful of this archdiocese. I talk a lot about the diocesan priesthood, and they presented the idea of a Diocesan Sisterhood, a group of women with the vows of religious life, living in community, praying together and accepting whatever apostolic mission the Archdiocese of Washington might require. We spoke of them going into campus ministry, pastoral service in the parishes, teaching in Catholic schools, parish visitations and of the myriad other forms of service that could be undertaken by this group.

Two years ago, seven single women began to meet together to test this idea. It is my hope that sometime in the fall, some of them will begin living together in community while each continues her own work for a while until a program of novitiate can be established.

Diocesan congregations are as fashionable as a '49 Nash, and there's an in-yo-face insolence about these women's resolve to buck the trend that warms my black heart. All across the Eastern seaboard the cry is for retrenchment and down-sizing and lowered pastoral expectations: the faithful have grown accustomed to summaries of digests of committees of consultants' task forces that explain why we don't need nuns anyway, and then these gals haul off and plunk their lives down -- and in exactly the opposite direction. It's so un-Georgetown.

As it happens, the Cardinal's a little fuzzy himself on the concept ("I talk about diocesan priesthood; they presented the idea of a diocesan sisterhood"), but the sisters will be dealing with his successor in any event. May they prosper.

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