Down is the new up: learning the lessons of religious life

2. East African boys smile for Sr. Kathie Shea's camera: "Children with their wide smiles and ticklish laughs always touched me. They let me see beyond the immediate circumstances and enjoy the present moment with them." (Kathie Shea)

Global Sisters Report has provided award-winning journalism about the mission and ministry of sisters since its start in April 2014, but the columns that sisters write themselves are at the heart of GSR's goal to give voice to women religious from around the world.

Last year, we added a new monthly feature called The Life, an international panel of sisters who write short reflections on a question posed every month.

For our second year of The Life, we had 80 applicants. We appreciate all who applied and regret that you could not hear from all of them, as they each had something worthwhile to say. But many not selected for the panel have already appeared or will appear on Global Sisters Report as columnists, with reflections on missionary work, mental health and more.

We took advantage of timing to run two writing samples that were expanded into columns for the U.S. celebration of Mother's Day: "Edible relics: my mother's pickles" and "My mum's belief in me" (this one by a panelist).

Choosing the panel was challenging, so much so that we increased the number of panelists from 20 to 25 to include as much diversity as possible — geographical, religious congregations, ages, ministries and backgrounds — to truly represent the global sisterhood.

Our panelists this year represent many congregations and are from (or are working in) Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Ghana, Haiti, India, Ireland, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria, South Africa, Switzerland, the Philippines and the United States. You can meet them here.

Every month, GSR poses a question or topic and publishes responses from several sisters who volunteer from the panel. The questions and topics are suggested by panel participants, GSR staff, or you, dear readers: Submit any questions for the panel at

For the June installment of The Life, we are running a selection of the panelists' responses to this topic:

Describe a key lesson you have learned from your work or life as a sister.

Read the sisters' responses at Global Sisters Report.

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