The Vatican has initiated an apostolic visitation of institutes for women religious in the United States to find out why the numbers of their members have decreased during the past 40 years and to look at the quality of life in the communities.
The announcement was made Jan. 30 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington by Sister Eva-Maria Ackerman, a member of the American province of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George.
She will assist Mother Mary Clare Millea, a Connecticut native who is superior general of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, an international religious institute that has its headquarters in Rome.
Cardinal Franc Rode, prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, appointed Mother Clare as the apostolic visitor.
The cardinal sent letters detailing the task to both the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, the two major organizations representing heads of women's religious orders in the U.S.