At the 2013 Giving Voice National Gathering in Belmont, Cal., Roman Catholic sisters aged 25 to 49 assembled to pray and reflect on the future of mission and ministry in church and society in the 21st century. Some of their comments from the gathering:
• Sister Jessi Beck, a 32-year-old member of the Presentation Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Dubuque, Iowa: “Throughout our history, sisters have been called to work with people living on the margins of society. Today the needs are growing as the gap between the rich and the poor expands. Having the wisdom of my sisters in community and a support group of peer age sisters in Giving Voice helps me to respond to the needs of our day.”
• Sister Sarah Heger, 31, a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondolet in St. Louis, Missouri: “Mission and ministry is both one of the most challenging and most rewarding parts of religious life. The opportunity to come together as young, excited, professional sisters, to share our stories, to buoy each other's dreams, to pray together about the ministries God would invite us to pursue into the future is a conversation aching to be lived.”
• Sister Jessica Taylor, a 41-year-old Sister of Providence from Seattle, Washington: “It is our mission to be the voice of the voiceless and to help those in need. In today’s society, the needs of the marginalized are being left out and services are being cut.”
• Sister Chero Chuma, 31, a Sister of St. Joseph of Peace: “As a caregiver, I am called to promote holistic care to individuals and families, relieving pain and suffering, and treating each person in a loving and caring way.”
• Sister Julia Walsh, a 31-year-old Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration living in La Crosse, Wisconsin: “I sense that the paradigms of religious life are shifting right around us and we have a unique and sacred role to play in building the reign of God. The world needs us to be prophetic mystics and spiritual social justice centered midwives and mentors to all of God's children as they give birth to many new forms of gospel living.”
Giving Voice is a peer-led grassroots national organization of Catholic sisters under the age of 50 which creates spaces for younger women religious to give voice to their hopes, dreams, and challenges in religious life. The July conference is the seventh national gathering of younger women religious organized since 1997 and the first to take place on the West Coast. Previous gatherings have taken place in Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, and Milwaukee. Contact Sister Susan Francois at 425-233-7280 to arrange a phone interview with sisters in their 20s, 30s, and 40s.