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Leaders of women’s religious communities reflect on ‘sunset of a model,’ ‘global sisterhood’

May 12, 2016

870 superiors of women’s religious institutes heard talks on mysticism and global sisterhood at the triennial assembly of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG).

The five-day assembly, which has attracted participants from 80 nations, is taking place at a Roman hotel.

Sister Márian Ambrosio, who has served as president of the National Conference of Religious Men and Women of Brazil, called upon women religious to “learn to be mystical persons” rather than “machines” and to emphasize “radical discipleship.”

She asked:

When we dialogue with them [young people] about the charism, do we reveal the mysticism that marks our fundamental identity or do we parade past them the quantity of our places, houses, activities we have around the world? Are we encouraging the young people to follow Jesus with us, or are we handing out vocational materials with photos and images we idealized about ourselves? …

We are living the sunset of a model that no longer finds expression today. Why should a young woman become a religious to accomplish a task that can be carried out perfectly well as a laywoman? In western countries where most of us live, many women religious occupy a place as temporary substitute, carrying out all very good activities, but ones that keep us far from the testimonial radiating that our charism asks of us. Yes, today we are still acting as substitutes for the clergy, and as substitutes of the civil state. And this attitude is not captivating!

On the evening of May 11, Sister Rosemarie Nassif of the Conrad Hilton Foundation’s Catholic Sisters Initiative spoke about an “emerging global sisterhood” characterized by collaboration, communication, and communion.

Calling for “no poverty, gender equality, climate action, peace and justice,” Sister Nassif emphasized the importance of the United Nations’ sustainable development goals (SDGs) in addressing humanitarian needs.

“In assuring the success of the SDGs and the generation of mercy across our world, we need a powerful and influential global sisterhood magnifying the impact of our efforts, influencing not only the works of mercy, but the decisions, the policies, the distribution of aid, the local, national and international governments, other religions in ways that everyone feel[s] loved, sought after and forgiven,” she said.


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  • Posted by: james-w-anderson8230 - May. 14, 2016 6:38 PM ET USA

    It is discouraging to see that there is an international version of the sisters on the bus. However it is encouraging that they realize that they are in their twilight years but they have no clue what is already starting to replace them.

  • Posted by: MAG - May. 12, 2016 7:16 PM ET USA

    And may their sunset hasten...