Presidential Addresses from the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR)

Maryknoll, New York – American Catholics discovered the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) in April of 2012, when the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) announced that, after a 4-year assessment, the organization—whose members represent 80% of the Catholic sisters in the United States—and its pastoral and doctrinal situation presented “a matter of serious concern.”  Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle was named Delegate for the Initiative of reforming the LCWR, along with Bishop Leonard Blair of Toledo, Ohio, and Bishop Thomas John Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois.

The international storm that followed included a 60 Minutes segment as well as tens of thousands of communications to and about LCWR, from Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Many American Catholics expressed support, finding it difficult to square the CDF’s conclusions with their experience of the sisters as teachers, healers, and role models. Indeed the hunger for the type of leadership the LCWR demonstrates was one of the reasons behind the decision to publishing Spiritual Leadership for Challenging Times.

Selecting ten of the LCWR presidential addresses from the past 25 years, Spiritual Leadership for Challenging Times seeks in part to respond to that interest in forms and models of leadership for the present and the future. These talks are extraordinary in a number of ways: presenting the challenges as well as the joys of leadership, discerning the meaning and living the reality of religious life on the cusp of two millennia, including the seismic shift from a pre-Vatican II to a post-Vatican II understanding of faith and its impact most particularly on religious life.

The addresses range from Sister Joan Chittister’s 1977 talk (“Making the Future Possible” ) to Sister Pat Farrell’s address, “Navigating the Shifts,” given at the August 2012 LCWR Assembly in St Louis, Missouri, four months after the CDF assessment, with 900 delegates in attendance. As editor Sister Annmarie Sanders writes in her introduction, “After much discussion and prayerful discernment, the strong consensus [was] to charge [LCWR’s} officers to enter into a conversation with the archbishop delegate . . . with the hope that open and honest dialogue would lead not only to increasing understanding between the church leadership and women religious but also to ‘creating more possibilities for the laity and, particularly for women, to have a voice in the church.”

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Spiritual Leadership for Challenging Times

Presidential Addresses from the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR)

ORBIS BOOKS, Maryknoll, NY 10545-0302

ISBN 978-1-62698-066-2 softcover $20

Pub Date: April 15, 2014

Founded in 1970, Orbis Books publishes works that enlighten the mind, nourish the spirit and challenge the conscience. Learn more at or on Facebook at!/orbisbooks.



Bernadette Price
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