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Vatican Releases Report of Visitation of American Women Religious
The results of the Apostolic Visitation of U.S. Women Religious, which took place 2009-2010, were released by the Vatican on Tuesday, December 16, 2014.
At the press conference were Brazilian Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life; Sister Sharon Holland, president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious; Sister Agnes Mary Donovan, coordinator of the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious; Sister Mary Clare Millea, apostolic visitor; Archbishop José Rodríguez Carballo, OFM, secretary for the Congregation for Religious; and Father Thomas Rosica, moderator.
“Since the early days of the Catholic Church [in the United States], women religious have courageously been in the forefront … selflessly tending to the spiritual, moral, educational, physical and social needs of countless individuals,” the report says.
In particular, the report says American nuns are especially apt to “resonate with Pope Francis’ insistence that ‘none of us can think we are exempt from concern for the poor and for social justice.'”
The document expresses “the profound gratitude of the Apostolic See and the Church in the United States for the dedicated and selfless service of women religious in all the essential areas of the life of the Church and society.”
According to Sister Sharon Holland, the overall results of the report are “encouraging and realistic … One can read the text and feel appreciated and trusted to carry on.” Sister Sharon said she believed that the American women religious “will feel affirmed and strengthened” by the results.
Sister Sharon continued: “The report we are receiving today reflects our reality—in its commonality and diversity. Perhaps because so many voices were heard and a remarkable synthesis made, Institutes will easily recognize their own truth, and also respect the diversity among us. Our achievements have been recognized with gratitude, and the nature of our challenges reviewed. We are urged to reflect, to strengthen, to take up opportunities, to discern, to act in extending the Church’s evangelizing mission, according to our distinctive but complementary charisms.”
Mother Clare continued: “I sincerely hope that the positive energy generated by the Apostolic Visitation will continue to bear fruit in the ongoing revitalization of the vocation and ministry of women religious in the United States. The Visitation has given us a priceless opportunity to renew our commitment to the consecrated life and to place our unique gifts at the service of the Church, as together we confront new and emerging threats to human dignity, religious freedom and conscience protection.”
To read the final report of the Visitation, click HERE.
To watch the press conference during which the report was given, click HERE.
To read the LCWR response to the report, click HERE.
The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet are an international congregation of women religious, ministering in the United States, Peru and Japan. The four provinces and one vice-province located in the U.S. were included in the Apostolic Visitation which was announced in 2009 and completed by the release of the final report in December 2014. The on-site visit to the congregation occurred in the province of St. Paul, Minnesota.
The Sisters are grateful that the final report appears to have affirmed the quality of our commitment to religious life and our sincere desire to continue the mission of Jesus through our ministries in education, health care and social services. The initiation of the Apostolic Visitation five years ago caused distress and anger for many Sisters; however, working through the process led us as a congregation to a deeper understanding and appreciation of our mission and identity. It also provided an opportunity for greater solidarity among women religious across the country.
We look forward to studying the full report and to gathering any insights which will be helpful for future planning. It is our prayer that the attentive listening and respectful dialogue which characterized the visitation process will continue as we engage in further conversations about the implications of the final report.