The 2018 assembly for the Leadership Conference of Women Religious is picking up exactly where last year's meeting left off: with a call to communion inspired by 2017's Outstanding Leadership Award recipient, Carmelite Sr. Constance Fitzgerald.
Roughly 800 sisters in leadership in their respective communities will gather Aug. 7-10 in St. Louis to reflect on this year's theme: "Being the Presence of Love: The Power of Communion."
LCWR, which represents approximately 80 percent of about 48,500 women religious in the United States, sees "being the presence of love" as one of the most important roles of women religious in this era, said Sr. Annmarie Sanders of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, LCWR's associate director of communications.
"With all of the destruction of the earth and the suffering throughout the global community, the conference recognizes that we, as a planet, are at a significant crossroads and that a shift in consciousness is desperately needed so that the course of the world changes," she said. "The shift is toward becoming communities of greater love and inclusion. LCWR sees that contributing to the shift of consciousness is an imperative of this time and may be the most important contribution women religious could help make."
Sanders said the strong response to last year's assembly — which also focused on "being the presence of love" — is what kept that theme in play this year.
Hosting the assembly in St. Louis comes with an acute awareness of racial tensions across the country, LCWR leaders said, as the turning point for the Black Lives Matter movement began in 2014 with the death of Michael Brown and subsequent protests in nearby Ferguson, garnering national attention for the campaign.