It's not a new issue or an isolated one, but that doesn't make dealing with aging populations, a lack of new sisters, spiraling costs and falling incomes any easier for religious congregations to deal with.
For some, like the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Ind., the process of realigning their priorities to their resources prompted them to undertake a "refounding," where they dedicated themselves to rebuilding the 175-year-old congregation from scratch.
"We deliberately chose refounding -- not reconfiguring, not restructuring, not regressing, not retiring and not choosing to end the mission of Providence," General Superior Sr. Denise Wilkinson writes in the Fall 2014 issue of the order's magazine, Hope, which centers around the refounding process.
For the Sisters of Providence, the process includes finding new uses for their spirituality and conference center and opening their health care center to non-sisters.
But other orders have looked at their resources and realized no realignment or refounding is possible. And for them, Sr. Mary Hughes is there to help.
Hughes is first Director of Transitional Services at the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. The LCWR is made up of Catholic women religious who are leaders of their orders in the United States, and represents about 80 percent of the 51,600 women religious in the United States.