Scottsdale, Arizona — Throughout the Bible, God's people keep being forced into the desert, where resources are few, the way is long and the dangers are many. But the desert, Sr. Pat Murray told the Leadership Conference of Women Religious on Aug. 14, is where God works wonders.
"We are constantly reminded that 'the place of scarcity, even death, is revealed by Jesus as a place of hope and new life,' " Murray said, quoting author Belden C. Lane. "It is here in the desert that people are fed, 5,000 at a time, and a new community takes shape."
Murray, a sister of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or Loreto Sisters, spoke to more than 700 sisters in her keynote address Aug. 14 at the annual LCWR assembly, which runs this year from Aug. 13 through16. Murray is the executive director of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG), which represents congregations of women religious around the world. LCWR represents about 80% of the congregations in the United States.
Murray noted it is not just an era of change but, as Pope Francis said, a change of eras, not just for the world, but for religious life, as well.
"A glance worldwide at developments within religious congregations points to a life cycle moving through the stages of birth, maturity, loss and diminishment, leading in some cases to conclusion," she said. "We are living the cycle of passion, death and resurrection at personal and organizational levels."
But the many different circumstances that congregations in different parts of the world find themselves in is not a cause for despair.