At the 2019 Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) assembly the keynote address was given by Sister Pat Murray, IBVM. It was a powerful reflection on religious leadership. She began with some opening remarks on our globalized world and on how the face of consecrated religious life is changing. She quoted Pope Francis who “expressed his hope for a growth in communion between the members of different Institutes calling them to step out more courageously from the confines of their respective Institutes and to work together at the local and global levels.” He also invites us to be “part of a true communion which is constantly open to encounter, dialogue, attentive listening and mutual assistance reaching out globally to people of other faiths and of no faith.”
Then Sr. Pat continued with six images and asked how they might speak to today’s leaders.
- Widen the tent of our hearts.
- Be present at the borderlands.
- Embrace vulnerability.
- Celebrate our luxurious cultural diversity.
- Engage in web-watching and web-weaving.
- Listen to the long note.
Each of these six images were profound in thinking and seeing in new ways. Her reflection showed how leadership, no matter where it happens, is about the interplay between the past, present and future. It is definitely a call to leaders to be immersed in the world, attuned to its joys and sufferings with a responsive heart. It challenges leaders to have courage in the face of the unknown and to take risks in leading communities that are changing, growing, and evolving in ways not imagined in earlier foundation days. Religious life leaders, and really anyone in leadership, would do well to ponder what these six images invite them to consider.
Providence women and men, whether Sisters or Associates, belong to this global community of change and are being faithful to the journey, open to whatever the Provident God is calling them to in this changing world.