NERINX, KY. -- “Today’s youth and young adults want what Lorettos already have,” Loretto Sr. Delores Kincaide told the Loretto jubilee gathering of hundreds of members and co-members here April 25. “A deeper spirituality, a supportive community, and a purpose that will change the world in which they live. Loretto is in a position now to consciously promote expansion by reaching out to these youth and others who desire what we already possess.”
VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI on Friday (May 18) expressed his "deep gratitude" to American nuns for their "fidelity and self-sacrifice," and he praised the U.S. bishops for their efforts to welcome immigrants.
The pontiff's comments on the sisters come just a month after the Vatican crackdown on the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, an umbrella group that represents most American nuns. The group was accused of not speaking out strongly enough against gay marriage, abortion and women's ordination.
Addressing a group of bishops from the United States who were in Rome for a regularly scheduled visit, Benedict said he hoped that the current phase of "discernment" would bear "abundant spiritual fruit" and revitalize women religious communities "in fidelity to Christ and the Church."
The pope called on the nuns to rediscover the "sublime dignity and beauty of the consecrated life" and stressed the need to strengthen communication between women religious and local church authorities.
In his speech to the bishops, Benedict also praised the church's "great generosity" towards immigrants in the United States.
Theirs was a meeting of the minds, and of faith. Like a Christ-impelled pebble dropped into the sea of humanity, their meeting created waves of movement.
She was Mary Rhodes, a young Maryland woman come to Kentucky to visit her brother, Bennett.
He was Fr. Charles Nerinckx, a transplanted Belgian priest who’d fled the European anti-Catholicism stoked by the French Revolution.
"The spirit is wonderful. It seems the sisters have captured something in people's hearts," said Helen Deines, a retired professor who organized the event, in an email. Whereas the first vigil at Louisville's Cathedral of the Assumption on May 8 drew 78 people, Tuesday's (May 15) event was attended by about 120.
Brother William Brynda, of the De La Salle Christian Brothers in Glencoe, Miss., has sent NCR the following letter for publication, in support of Catholic sisters the Vatican criticizes in a recent report. Brynda said he also sent a copy to Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle, who has been appointed to oversee the Leadership Conference of Women Religious going forward.
The following piece, titled "Just Thinking," was sent to the National Catholic Reporter, for publication, by Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word Sr. Joan Holden, of St. Louis:
Catholic teaching claims there are four marks of the church – the church is one, holy, Catholic and apostolic. Dare I add a fifth, for it is also persecuted! From the very beginning of Christianity, the church, meaning all of the people of God, has been severely persecuted, but mostly from outside the structure.
The following letter was sent to the National Catholic Reporter by a former Sister of Mercy, and it is signed by 14 other women who were once members of religious communities. In a cover letter to Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, Helen Urbain-Majzler writes: "We would be grateful if you shared the contents of our letter with other member bishops."
The "Open letter to the U.S. Catholic Bishops" letter reads:
The Nun Justice Project, a grassroots movement of Catholic organizations working to support the American nuns criticized in a recent Vatican report, has announced it is launching a new website. Find it here, along with a list of six things you can do to support sisters.
Late Tuesday afternoon in Washington, D.C., about 75 protesters gathered in front of the sign that marked the entrance to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops building, as part of a nationwide effort led by the Nun Justice Project. However, Kate Conmy, the organizer of the event in D.C., said the USCCB sign that was to be a landmark had been covered with a black tarp.
Conmy, who works for the Women's Ordination Conference, said most people learned about the vigil by visiting www.change.org, the website that hosts a petition started by the Nun Justice Project to support the sisters. She remembers one woman at the vigil saying: “I’m angry, and this is the first protest I’ve ever been to.”
The vigils will take place every Tuesday in May, and are expected to expand to more cities.
If you attended the vigil in Washington, D.C., or know someone who attended, please leave a comment.
Al Dabrowski, Call To Action member and organizer for the Nun Justice Project in the Rio Grande Valley area, said the stormy evening weather likely kept some people home Tuesday, when a group of 15 gathered for a prayer vigil to support Catholic nuns at the Basilica of our Lady of San Juan del Valle in San Juan.
The prayer vigils, planned in select cities every Tuesday in May, are part of a nationwide effort launched by The Nun Justice Project and supported by local Catholic groups.
If you attended the vigil in San Juan, Texas, or know someone who attended, please leave a comment.