If you ask lay supporters their thoughts on how the Leadership Conference of Women Religious handled the Vatican's 2012 statement that it was guilty of undermining church teachings -- not to mention the subsequent appointment of Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain to oversee the group's activities -- they'll tell you how inspired they were by the LCWR's prayerful, respectful response.
That response, many supporters will also tell you, is far from an anomaly, but is rather a manifestation of Catholic sisters' little recognized style of leadership.
"I think people are aware of the work that [sisters] do, but I don't know how much people think of them as being leaders in the leadership field," said Linda Plitt Donaldson, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies at The Catholic University of America. She also is a member of Solidarity with Sisters, a lay group formed to support U.S. women religious and the LCWR, which represents more than 80 percent of them.
But on Saturday, supporters had an opportunity to learn more about spiritual leadership -- the LCWR's particular flavor of contemplation-based, collaborative leadership -- at an all-day conference at the school, sponsored by Solidarity with Sisters and the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies.