I love the sisters whose congregations belong to the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. I’ve lived in three convents run by three different religious communities who are part of the LCWR (almost four) and spend a good amount of time with one particular congregation in the States.
There is a lot to be said about these women. They do everything in their dioceses. For the community I volunteer with and have dinner with a lot, they are social workers, nurses, teachers….they run hospitals, schools, several diocesan offices, parishes, non-profits, they work to end capital punishment, the deportation of migrant workers, they work to end the cycle of poverty. They are intensely prayerful, compassionate women who have spent every day of their lives serving Jesus. They never get any credit from American bishops, especially not now. They got investigated instead by Cardinal Law (what the hell was the vatican thinking???)
They don’t wear habits, and haven’t since the 1970s. The way they are treated because of this is simply absurd. I’ve seen seminarians and priests dismiss them simply because they don’t “look like nuns.” Because I’m at the Motherhouse for all the feasts, some of the younger priests and even lay people mistook me for a sister, too (I dress like Nikki Grant meets Dutch lady theologians), and their attitude towards me and the sisters was absurd. And this wasn’t because of something the sisters did—it was because they weren’t ~traditional~ and didn’t wear a habit.
These are sisters who have literally gone across the world, started hospitals and schools where no one else wanted to go, took shit from priests and bishops for years, help the people no one else wants to, and love the people everyone wants to forget about. .One of the nuns I lived with had the ministry of working with Dignity USA before they were shut down by the vatican—and you know what? She still works with the LGBT community because love of Christ and welcoming neighbor and all that stuff in the New Testament
I understand that there is this move in the Catholic Church towards ~orthodoxy~ or ~traditionalism~. I was all for that at one point in my life, a very sad part of my life when I was a very depressed young teenager. That doesn’t give any priest, any lay person, the ability to insult them, to hate them, to hope their orders “die out.”
Because you know what? These women are the strongest women I know. They aren’t afraid of bishops, priests, or even the pope. They taught me about strength, about really serving Jesus (not the hierarchy), and about walking with one another.
tl;dr: if you are going to judge the LCWR on what they wear, hope their orders “die out,” and treat their sisters like shit while praising habited nuns as “better” you need look at your life, look at your choices, and you seriously need jesus.