New leadership for LCWR – The nation’s largest group of religious sisters welcomed a new leader and said goodbye to another Friday.
The NCR writes the following….The Leadership Conference of Women Religious held its transfer of leadership Friday afternoon, installing St. Joseph Sr. Marcia Allen as president-elect. Allen was the only nominee for the position.
The LCWR, made up of Catholic women religious who are leaders of their orders in the United States, uses a unique leadership style with three current officers: a president, a president-elect and a past president. All three collaborate on decisions.
“We are exceedingly grateful to you, Marcia Allen, for answering the call,” said St. Joseph Sr. Janet Mock, executive director of LCWR. “We welcome you warmly into the presidency.”
Allen will join Immaculate Heart of Mary Sr. Sharon Holland, who will be president this year, and St. Joseph Sr. Carol Zinn, who moves from president to past president.
Franciscan Sr. Florence Deacon was past president and is now finished with what is essentially a three-year term in office.
Allen is president of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, Kan. She holds a doctorate in spirituality and a master’s degree in administration and has been a staff member of Manna House of Prayer in Concordia since 1995.
Holland, who became president Friday, is a canon lawyer with degrees from Georgetown University and has served for 21 years in the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, where she was one of the highest-ranking women in the Vatican.
“Thank you for all you’ve already done for LCWR and all you will do in the future,” Mock told her.
Zinn, who moved from president to past president, holds a doctorate in curriculum development and education foundations and a master’s degree in theology. She was a research fellow at Episcopal Divinity School and Harvard University studying leadership and transformation.
Franciscan Sr. Mary Beth Gianoli was named LCWR secretary. The LCWR represents about 80 percent of the 51,600 women religious in the United States.
LCWR has been undergoing a Vatican-ordered doctrinal assessment since 2009. Following the investigation, in 2012, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith ordered LCWR to reform its statutes and appointed Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain to oversee changes. After this assembly, Sartain must approve speakers at the group’s events, according to the doctrinal congregation.
Sartain has attended each of the public sessions LCWR has held so far in its four-day assembly, but business for the group has gone on as usual, including high-profile keynote speakers talking bluntly from the podium while Sartain listened intently in the front row of tables and to the mundane, bureaucratic functions such as adopting a strategic plan. The doctrinal assessment has been discussed in closed sessions and been referred to several times by speakers, but it has not otherwise colored the assembly.
“The assembly always has business that has to be done,” said LCWR spokeswoman and Immaculate Heart of Mary Sr. Annmarie Sanders. “We provide education to members, give them an opportunity to network, give them a chance to look at pressing justice issues of the world and elect officers.”
While Sartain said he and LCWR have an agreement to speak only to each other about the doctrinal assessment, he did tell NCR he is always impressed by the warm, personal relationship he feels at each assembly he attends.
“I’m very pleased with the gracious welcome I’ve received,” Sartain said. “It really is a pleasure to get to know sisters individually and learn about each of their communities. And I’m always struck by how many I know personally from my years in the ministry — it’s great to be able to see them again and check in with them and see how they’re doing.”
About 750 of LCWR’s 1,400 members are in Nashville this week.
Friday morning, Sr. Nancy Schreck, a Franciscan sister and a past president of LCWR, wrapped up her multi-day keynote address by talking about leadership and the need to connect with others’ sorrow.
“It’s critical that we as leaders immerse ourselves in that broken-heartedness,” Schreck said. “We need to make the connection between individual heartbreak and the broken-heartedness of the world.”
Others may not understand this, she said, echoing remarks she had made before, but it is still the right thing to do. She then won warm applause by quoting Friedrich Nietzsche: “Those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.”