Last week, the Leadership Team hosted the annual gathering of the Dominican Sisters Conference Leaders Meeting. Each year, leaders from across the country come together to sharpen their vision of Dominican mission and life and share the companionship and sisterhood of those in service to the Gospel.
I love it. I could almost taste the energy and creativity in the room as we looked to the future. Of course, the shrinking number of sisters in the USA is sobering and we are facing a future that is smaller and leaner. But this group possesses the key skills and openness to grace that gives me confidence that God is working within us on the journey.
So many moments during this gathering were electric with the power of sisterhood. Sr. Dusty Farnan, OP (Adrian) was introduced as our new NGO Representative at the United Nations, and when that happened, Sr. Margaret Mayce, OP, (Amityville) her predecessor — and the newly elected International Coordinator of Dominican Sisters International — spontaneously leaped up and embraced Dusty in a moment of tremendous affection and sisterly connection. They were surrounded by our approving applause. I loved that too.
The best part of the meeting was the conversations we had with younger Dominican women who were invited to join us in imagining what the future might hold. Clearly, our younger members need to build their relationship across congregational boundaries, since they will be more connected to their own age cohorts as time goes by. In fact, many already have meaningful sisterly connections with Dominican sisters their own age in other congregations. So there was much talk and speculation and indeed serious consideration of just what Dominican sisters might look like 10, 20 or 30 years from now.
The primary symbol of the DSC Leaders Meeting was the Visitation: the beautiful strength of family ties, of Mary and Elizabeth, women who love each other because they shared a common bond, a common mission, a shared hope for the world.
What struck me the most about our meeting, was the courage of the women there to face the future in faith and in hope. Where does that courage come from? I ask myself that on days when I am not feeling so courageous and want to keep my head down and just do the work. Courage comes from the power of our sisterhood, the energy that women have together. Courage is what helped women gain the right to vote and fueled the development of Catholic education and Catholic healthcare in the United States. Courage is what animated the development of retreat ministry and spiritual formation for women. Courage put women in outer space, in corporate board rooms, and public office. Courage makes immigration reform and human trafficking advocacy visible to the public at a time when many people would simply turn their heads and look away. And there are so many other spheres where the courage of women has shifted the arc of history toward justice.
Our sisterhood is powerful. If you are feeling wimpy today, take your courage from your sisters. We have your back.