What you need to know about contemplative nuns in the United States

Who are contemplative nuns in the United States? The answers are as diverse the communities they inhabit.

They live on islands and in forests, behind churches on busy highways and among working-class homes on urban streets. Obedient to a discipline of prayer almost as old as Christianity itself, contemplative nuns in the United States may seldom visit the world that bustles outside their doors — but are often called first for prayer when there is a personal or global tragedy.

“They are not asked about much, they are not out and about, they weren’t being investigated,” said Sr. Janet Welsh, a Sinsinawa Dominican and director of the McGreal Center at Dominican University in Lake Forest, Illinois. “But they are a powerhouse of prayer and contemplation and very much in tune with the needs of the world.”

They are women seeking an ordered round of domestic routine and worship that many say provides the space they need to more deeply meet the world’s profound needs through prayer.

NCR's Global Sister's Report has an indepth look at contemplative nuns in the U.S. Read it here: A powerful silence: The somewhat hidden witness of American contemplative orders


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