I still remember the shock I felt when reading an email that was forwarded to me on Jan. 30, 2009. I was the president of my community at the time. The email reported that a press release announcing the apostolic visitation of communities of women religious in the U.S. had just been issued. I didn't really know for certain what an apostolic visitation was or the ramifications of this announcement, but I sensed it was an ominous message.
Thus began the journey through the four phases of the apostolic visitation, which was ordered by the Vatican's Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life to examine "the quality of life" of women religious in the U.S. The visitation was completed in early 2012 with the submission of a report to the Vatican by Mother Mary Clare Millea, who had been appointed to conduct it. The content of the report is unknown.
Now, some wonder when, or if, a public response from Vatican congregation will be forthcoming. Or what it will say. I suppose at one time, most of us women religious in the U.S. would have been quite anxious about this. Not anymore.
Power of Sisterhood: Women Religious Tell the Story of the Apostolic Visitation, the new book published by University Press of America, affords readers plenty of insight into why that is.