Anne Lythgoe, OP (Peace)
President, Dominican Sisters Conference
February 17, 2021 — What do you imagine the future will be? What will Dominican Life and Mission look like in five years? Ten years? Twenty? Can you imagine that far out in time?
Dominican sisters, both leaders and members, have been coalescing around these questions for some time now, and a new energy and direction is rising up around them.
Building on the evolutionary path of Dominican Women Afire, the Dominican Sisterhood Futuring Task Force has been hard at work since October of 2018, to gather the energy of our sisters under 70 and provide a forum in which they can talk together and explore their own visions of the future. It used the Visitation relationship of Elizabeth and Mary to make visible the relationship between older members (Elizabeths) who can offer guidance and encouragement to the younger members (Marys) as they bring to birth the Gospel in new ways. The Task Force is a sub-committee of the Dominican Sisters Conference and Sr. Pat Twohill is a member of the sub-committee.
An extensive survey of Marys (sisters under 70) in US congregations revealed a strong energy for collaboration, for a need for itinerancy, a willingness to dream, and lots of excitement about moving forward. So what are Marys dreaming about? We want to know, we want to engage younger members in the kind of substantive, realistic conversations that will give voice to their vision and support for its implementation.
A new under 70 core committee is being called forth to play a vital leadership role in animating the future of our Dominican Sisterhood. We look to this committee to offer the kind of leadership and commitment needed to bring to birth a new way of being Dominican together, a new way to live the life and mission we all share.
This is a moment of empowerment. It is a call to gather the women who will lead and live Dominican Life well beyond the present time. Who knows where it will lead? But there is serious and committed energy around making concrete and committed steps toward a future together.
In a practical way, and as a beginning, the committee will coordinate newly forming affinity groups on a number of topics ranging from anti-racism to environmental justice and to intercommunity living. A new database of members under 70 will help connect sisters across congregational boundaries and help foster an understanding of each other, what they are interested in, how they see their own future together.
Many sisters across congregations are ready to move toward a new “something” together. What does this look like, especially in light of the demographic realities of the 19 congregations of Dominicans in the US who are getting smaller and some closer to completion? What are our Marys moving toward?
The work of the DSC Task Force has prepared the soil for new concrete ways for Marys to not only relate to one another, but also to move into a shared vision for the future. Our hope is that a strong core committee can provide the leadership and animation needed to empower our sisterhood.
Truly, sisterhood is powerful — we have seen it in our founding sisters, in their courage and commitment to create something new. Something new is indeed being created now, who will be a part of it? What will they create? How will they live Dominican life and mission together? The time is now and the urgency is now. Watch this space as this new energy comes to life. And support members under 70 in their visions and hopes for the future.