LCWR Assembly BEGINS! “Shifting from I to WE”

12_06_19_LCWR_largeThe annual conflab of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) starts today at a luxury location in Orlando.

I am still downcast about how they rejected my request for press credentials.  It was so traumatic.  I still choke up.

Perhaps some of you will get some updates!

Meanwhile, the participants were urged in the LCWR newletter to prepare for their assembly by reviewing some materials, including: HERE

Contemplative Dialogue: Unleashing the Transformative Power of Communal Wisdom is a video that demonstrates one method by which a group can engage in contemplative dialogue. Because we are paying attention to the field of relationship (the “WE space”) among us, this slow-moving manner of dialogue deepens our sense of union. Our intention is to move beyond the personal as we probe significant ideas together and listen deeply for truth in another’s point of view. Contemplative dialogue is a means of readying the ground for collective transformation, for helping shift from I to WE, from individualism to communion.

The one-hour video may be seen online and is provided by LCWR so that viewers may come to better understand this form of dialogue by watching an actual contemplative dialogue session. The video may be shared widely since many people today are searching for ways to converse with depth and openness about matters of significance. Contemplative dialogue fosters an exchange that allows for differences to be expressed, honored, and held with reverence. The video is also available with Spanish-language captions of the introduction and closing remarks.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Red_Shirt_Hero says:

    Surely this is the title of their first seminar on conjugating Latin verbs?

  2. KSCoy says:

    Can’t tell if they are sisters or not…sigh!

  3. un-ionized says:

    At least they know about comfy shoes.

  4. Cafea Fruor says:

    I, on the other hand, can spot them a mile away. They think they’re being all incognito, but there’s a certain je ne sais quoi that gives them away. They ain’t foolin’ me.

  5. mburn16 says:

    Having been on numerous committees and commissions, I’ve found that slow-paced group dialogue is rarely contemplative. In fact, I’m pretty sure it was invented by the drug makers to sell their various blood pressure products.

  6. yatzer says:

    I listened for 4 minutes, which was all I could tolerate without being able to get what she was talking about. It was English and I’m good at English, but what she was actually speaking about was unintelligible to me. There was talk about circles and community, whatever that points to, nothing about Jesus, or even God or a god. What do they perceive themselves to be religious about? Dunno.

  7. MariaKap says:

    First five minutes and not a word about Christ. Can’t take any more than that.

  8. JabbaPapa says:

    Our intention is to move beyond the personal

    Arguably, this is a formal declaration of overt heresy against the doctrine of the Three Persons of the Trinity, not to mention we poor sinful incarnated persons.

  9. erick says:

    Very sad. Ironic that they are so close to being “spiritual but not religious.” I didn’t make it through the whole video, but I didn’t hear a single prayer, and it wasn’t until about the 12 minute mark that we even hear mention of God. Back to making my “we space”…

  10. God bless the sisters.

    This sort of “collaborative decision making” has been all the rage in certain circles; and it reminds me of a priest colleague who has worked in some diocesan positions over the years, but now is in a parish. He was (in)famous for everything being about “the process.” It is absolutely maddening. It’s rather like saying, a trip is all about the arranging of the seating in the car — as opposed actually to arriving somewhere.

  11. Joseph-Mary says:

    Collective transformation? Into what????

  12. Legisperitus says:

    In a decade or two, they’ll definitely be able to have their meetings in a “wee space.”

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  13. Andrew1054 says:

    If you work in the Church you will be compelled to attend such things eventually….talk to your local seminarian for details he’s probably experienced one. I can tell you that such sessions are absolutely mind numbing and soul destroying. If you question or even utter a polite word of resistance to “the program” you will be immediately targeted. It’s a horrible experience and most people who are forced to go to such things usually just play along and then day dream. When I’ve been forced to go to such things I pray the rosary and the Jesus prayer in my head and fake very long “bathroom” breaks. These things are truly Orwellian. The infuriating thing is there’s nothing overtly wrong or sinful about them, so questioning these sessions makes you look like a loon. They know that too; don’t you want to be contemplative and dialogue? Don’t you want to listen to others? Etc. Etc. It’s maddening.

  14. Semper Gumby says:

    Fr. Z wrote: “I am still downcast about how they rejected my request for press credentials. It was so traumatic. I still choke up.”

    Tracer Bullet was also crestfallen when I explained to him that this LCWR gathering was not the place to put on one’s best pinstriped suit and walk through the doors grinning at the ladies and sending ’round trays of champagne cocktails. Tracer did not admit defeat- he hates to do that on a night off- until I told him there were no cigarette girls there and not a swing band in sight. So I loaned him my Fulton Sheen book, poured him a bit of The Macallan 25, and all is right with the world again.

  15. JustaSinner says:

    Nice picture, the group slinks over to the buffet…

  16. FL_Catholic says:

    Maybe one of those meteors from the Tears of St. Lawrence can make its way about 50 miles to my east and go towards Orlando? Maybe that will cause these good sisters to start praying like..well..good sisters? Nothing like a fiery ball of rock hurling at your head to cause one to become better acquainted with the Faith of your Fathers….

    Or perhaps they’ll be able to “pray a new meteor into being” and enter into a contemplative dialogue with it?

  17. Here a possible shift: from “here” to “there”.

  18. NBW says:

    Some interesting and scary words mentioned: “Earth..Consciousness..Liturgical Dance…”Did not hear the mention of God or Jesus. And the scary shamrock plant with the matching felt tye dye blanket…. I couldn’t take any more. They didn’t look like nuns.

  19. Seattle Slough says:

    I think it’s the conflab that gives them away. ROFL.

  20. Benedict Joseph says:

    Sounds like the Vulcan mind meld.

  21. TonyO says:

    I must say, Father, you certainly got the “flab” part of the “conflab” right!

    The nice thing about the LCWR is that they are leading themselves right out of existence. Won’t it be a wonderful blessing when we can, in a few years, utter a sigh of nostalgia about “that old LCWR that used to have such silly conflabs”? The conferring is irrelevant already, so they have achieved the central objective.

  22. jbazchicago says:

    Absolutely true story!
    A bishop in a small diocese was making his canonical visitation of a community of CSJs when they were all of diocesan right. As the bishop was leaving with his secretary (who told me this story) a sister came up yelling “Bishop! Bishop!!!” as she waved a piece of paper in her hand. Th bishop very kindly stopped and the sister, who did “massage therapy ministry” gave the bishop,a gift certificate for a half-hour massage. The bishop quietly turned to his priest-secretary and said, “I know what a half-hour special is, and I wouldn’t want it from her!”
    No lie, absolutely true.

  23. jennieprater says:

    I watched the second one while cooking dinner. They seem like sincere women who want to do something beautiful and helpful, but they lack any resources but their own loop of buzzwords. How is it that they wish to be contemplative yet have failed to discover St. Thomas a Kempis, St. John of the Cross, St. Theresa of Avila, etc., etc? I believe they have missed the bus…

  24. Mojoron says:

    Does this “we” include God or the other two persons of the Trinity?

  25. mariadevotee says:

    Watch the video? Sorry, no can do. Need to wash my hair.

  26. jfk03 says:

    Neither the Name of Jesus nor his Gospel is mentioned during this dialogue. It is pretty new agey stuff.

  27. iamlucky13 says:

    “Because we are paying attention to the field of relationship (the “WE space”) among us, this slow-moving manner of dialogue deepens our sense of union. Our intention is to move beyond the personal as we probe significant ideas together and listen deeply for truth in another’s point of view. “

    This sounds very much like the Episcopal Divinity School course descriptions shared last week.

    For example:

    “A course for the courageous, who wish to explore first-hand the liberatory [sic] and transformative power of their voices in community. Using the classroom community as a laboratory, the course will combine: (1) practical work on voice production and the body/mind/soul as human instrument with (2) in-class discussion and small team exploration of readings on voice, identity/community membership, and leadership.”

  28. Fr. Hamilton says:

    I for one would like to compliment the Sisters for airing their nonsense in the very first moments of the video. I appreciate that more of my time was not wasted because one could determine immediately that the video is new age babble and self-proclaimed gravitas while saying nothing in the most verbose manner. It was a good excuse to laugh. Here is my laugh track of Sister’s golden nuggets:

    “years of studying integral development”
    “suffering of our earth and her people”
    “integral transformation of consciousness”
    Quoting Einstein (and I kept waiting for Jesus).
    And cue the forced gravitas: “What will transform us… is to learn to grow or capacity to create shared fields of embodied presence and love when we are together.”

    Um, Sister, you speak unintelligible nonsense with such determination that after I am finished laughing the overwhelming feeling that remains is sadness. How far afield one falls when refusing to be bounded by Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. May you repent while there is time.

  29. jameeka says:

    There, there, Fr Z.

    Thank you for not cluttering up the podcaZt feed with this ’70s garbage, and think of what you were spared! Hell, via encounter group-think.

  30. Fr. Reader says:

    “Our intention is to move beyond the personal”
    Arguably, this is a formal declaration of overt heresy against the doctrine of the Three Persons of the Trinity…
    Real buddhism is like this, you should move beyond the personal. There is no I, there should not be. It is necessary to cancel the distinction between the I of God and my I, because it does not exist, it is an illusion.

  31. thomas tucker says:

    I actually watched it. What a dreadful waste of time.

  32. thomas tucker says:

    On second thought, perhaps I’ll spend less time in Purgatory now. So, not a total waste of time.

  33. Adaquano says:

    I opted for beer this evening and not scotch, so I have not watched the video. Can anyone tell me if Sister Ilia Delio names an appearance?

  34. gracie says:

    It seems as if these women are trying to create secular trinities. There is the First Person “I”, the Second Person “You”, and the Third Person “We” created by the transcendent communion between the I and the You. The sister spells it out in the first 9 minutes of the video; the rest of the talk is how to bring it about. She says that of course the participants in these trinities will be non-judgmental in their listening and speaking and communing together. Finally a trinity that doesn’t judge. Nice.

  35. MitisVis says:

    around 6:15 “it’s better if we use what I call the Distilled version…”
    and I agree! Was hoping to see several versions of distilled passed around to really get
    to what they feel, maybe even some cigars…they’ve made movies like this haven’t they?

    Regardless if they have chosen this path out of stubborn willfulness or been been led here
    as refuge from emotional damage (many references to being listened to, and being safe)
    they are in great need of our prayers.

  36. Fr. Vincent Fitzpatrick says:

    Listening one another into speech!

    Telling our herstories!

    Birthing WomynChurch!

  37. Absit invidia says:

    LCWR … another goofy acronym like LGBT. The other thing I don’t like about this group is the single age class that they comprise of. Do they seriously think that we have to listen to them only bc they have a 4-letter label beginning with “L?”

  38. JonPatrick says:

    Just finished my morning prayer which included reading abut today’s saint St. Theresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) what a contrast to then read about this group of Sisters.

    Some of their patter almost sounds like Buddhism where there is no God as such apart from creation but creation itself is worshiped and we lose our selves and become one with it, or something like that.

  39. Scott W. says:

    Watch the video? Sorry, no can do. Need to wash my hair

    I need to scoop the litter box.

  40. Kerry says:

    When evaporated the phrases all read, “A thing CAN be what it is, AND what it is NOT, at the same time”.
    Workshop: Aristotle Who? A study in denial, forgivingess and bird whistling.

  41. JMM says:

    New age garbage. All the buzz words and nothing of substance.

  42. Sonshine135 says:

    Is this a Catholic Religious conference or a conference on the Celestine Prophecy? I’m just asking, because I’m really not sure.

  43. Thorfinn says:

    I am not a fan of talk about the “biological solution” – we are dust and to dust we shall return, and we pray for our salvation & for that of the whole world and particularly those “in most need of Thy mercy”.

    That being said, demographics for the LCWR orders are beyond woeful, spin from CARA aside. As of 2009 there were twice as many LCWR sisters over 90 years old as under 40, and the typical new vocation is over 40. The Sisters of Mercy (of the Americas) had 3400 members as of 2014, having merged and consolidated from its heydey of 14,000 sisters “for the sake of new life”. This new life totaled 25 women in formation; as I understand it the formation period is ~8 years, and assuming none left, and an average entrance age of 40, if that rate persisted there would be fewer than 200 living Sisters. Perhaps a catastrophic decline will facilitate a return to the charism of the founders of these orders. Of course with many of these orders, there are already offshoots doing just that – consider the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma (non-LCWR affiliated).

  44. benedetta says:

    “From I to we”, you say? Has the LCWR finally acknowledged that a mother with child is a “we” of two actual persons and not one mightier person with a choice to make over a blob of tissue? Hallelujah!

  45. bobk says:

    It sounds chillingly like every experience I have had in 30 years with somebody from an HR department. With HR you don’t need North Korea.

  46. Perhaps we are being hasty. Take another look at this statement from the LCWR page: “Contemplative dialogue is a means of readying the ground for collective transformation, for helping shift from I to WE, from individualism to communion.”

    This sounds very promising! Consider:

    Using “contemplative dialogue” to ready the ground for re-orienting the sacred liturgy from the horizontal to the vertical, from human experience to divine action, from us to Christ?

    No doubt more possibilities can be adduced?

    [I suspect that isn’t what they have in mind.  o{]:¬)   ]

  47. Andrew1054 says:

    Check out this video. It’s about the Nashville Dominican sisters. It’s a much needed antidote to LCWR silliness. It’s a beautiful clip and will bring you hope in regard to religious life. These sisters (and others; like the Sisters of Life) show us the only way forward.

  48. Sawyer says:

    I’m surprised nobody has pointed out yet that the good sister who speaks at the beginning of the video is wearing a quasi-stole. Now, it could be a scarf or neckerchief, and if she were questioned about it she would no doubt simply call it one of those accessories. But there’s no doubt that it very strongly resembles a priestly stole even though it is cleverly muted. I think it betrays a certain womynpriest frame of mind, especially when combined with all the pseudo-religious, post-Christian psychobabble that she spouts.

  49. bennett says:

    We are legion. There are many of us.

  50. EmilB says:


  51. gracie says:


    Thanks to the link to the Dominican Sisters of Nashville. I posted it on Facebook. I admit to a certain schadenfreude in posting FB Catholic stories that my pro-choice, lgbtqui-loving “Catholic” friends will see. Who knows? It might get one of them to actually start thinking about things.

  52. Fr. Vincent Fitzpatrick says:


    Not every “conservative” outfit is worthy of support.

  53. Aquinas Gal says:

    I’ve been reading about some saints who lived during and after the French Revolution. Despite the turmoil, many saints arose and started new congregations of women religious. I firmly believe that after the current nonsense has gone its way, God will do the same thing in the Church. It’s already starting, like a mustard seed.

  54. iamlucky13 says:

    @ bobk
    “It sounds chillingly like every experience I have had in 30 years with somebody from an HR department. With HR you don’t need North Korea.”

    Similarly, I was thinking of a friend’s story about a followup from a job interview for a resident assistant position at our university. There was apparently at some point in the interview process a group discussion of some sort involving the people he would have been working with and all the candidates.

    He was told he had been disqualified because his posture during the discussion indicated he was closed to the viewpoints of others, particularly the act of crossing his arms, a sign of exclusion.

  55. Semper Gumby says:

    Thank you Fr. Hamilton, gracie, and others for quotes and summary of the video. I had a go at the first ten minutes (up to the point they started personal introductions).

    I agree, that opening talk has a mix of New Age themes. A good book on this, though a bit dated, is Goddess Unmasked: The Rise of Neopagan Feminist Spirituality.

    This may be purely coincidence, but there are at least eight uses of Wiccan terminology blended into those first ten minutes: “…grounding [ourselves]…this circle…this container [circle] makes it safe…reverence the sacredness of her thoughts and feelings…be still and center…” No usage was a complete sentence, but eight occurrences- and I may have missed several more- of Wiccan clauses and words is a bit out of the ordinary. Then there was the shrubbery and candle display on the floor.

    Prayers for all these Sisters.

  56. Luvadoxi says:

    Incredibly sad. And I wouldn’t be able to sit peacefully through any sort of conference like this. Still…are the body and age comments necessary? (speaking as one who looks a bit like these ladies but doesn’t think like them….)

  57. Elizabeth M says:

    Oh it starts with piano of course. She’s a spiritual director??
    This is what happens when you only surround yourself with people who think like you. You spiral down and down, covering each other in hugs and telling each other that you must be right because you see nothing beyond your personal group.

    Why is there a towel on the floor with a plant & candle? Did they just bury a hamster? Are they trying to clean the air?

    The end of the video they are reaching out to try and form a bigger congregation. Looks like the sisters have realized they are dying off and need recruits.

  58. Traductora says:

    Little old ladies on parade. But I feel awful even criticizing them, because most of them were completely misled by people in authority (in the case of the sisters, this would be both their bishop and the parish priest) and really thought they were doing the right thing. However, they’ve caused an enormous amount of damage, and the sad thing is that a lot of them, as they get nearer to death – I know a collapsed religious order where this is happening – know that they did the wrong thing and feel responsible. So pray for them.

  59. robtbrown says:

    The reference by the goose sister to Level of Consciousness reminds me of the GB Shaw play Heartbreak House, with a character named CPT Shotover. CPT Shotover is a retired sea captain who is much concerned with the 9th Level of Concentration. He constantly refers to it.

    Finally, at the end of the play he unveils the mystery: The 9th Level of Concentration is Rum.

  60. CharlesG says:

    So they’re still upset about the more accurate English translation of the Creed. The Latin says “credo” not “credamus”

  61. Matt Robare says:

    Last year they did transhumanism and cybernetic and genetic modifications. This year they’re doing groupthink and collective consciousness. I think they’re trying to become the Borg.

  62. TonyO says:

    Still…are the body and age comments necessary? (speaking as one who looks a bit like these ladies but doesn’t think like them….)

    Luvadoxi, the “age and body comments” are actually pertinent at least from 2 points.

    (1) These orders are dying out – which is indicated by the fact that all of the members are old – because they have forfeited any reason for existing as religious orders. This was a conscious set of choices they made, coming home to roost. I (and everyone else here) have tons of respect for old nuns that look old but have become old in REAL service to the Church: Mother Teresa of Calcutta is a perfect example. The comments about age are indirect comments about the futility of their chosen objectives and the resulting loss of vocations.

    (2) The flab evident in the picture is evident in part because these sisters have rebelled against wearing habits, and gone not only to wearing civvies but (almost entirely) slacks and shirts. I am sure it’s “more comfortable” for them, but the mere fact of that greater comfort with effectively avoiding specifically women’s attire, much less a religious habit, says a lot. They cannot be excluded from the kinds of off-hand judgments men make about ordinary people “in the world” if they refuse to dress differently from ordinary civilians: they will attract the respondent behavior that their attire and demeanor and behavior warrant.

    A nun in a habit (even a nun who is flabby) attracts the respect that honors their decision to forego this world’s goods for the next. The person seeing her ignores the shape underneath the habit (which is EXACTLY THE POINT of the habit) and focuses on higher things: this is the subconscious effect of appropriate attire for the situation. The person seeing a sister in civvies (sort of, though what they are wearing has become the “civvy-based uniform-substitute for nun-substitute” orders) isn’t led to that same subconscious behavior, because her civilian attire cannot push it. They reap what they sow.

  63. robtbrown says:

    Should be good sister , not goose

  64. majuscule says:

    I only got as far as the woman in the introduction telling us her ministry is Spiritual Direction.

  65. clare joseph says:

    Best response of all the ones I’ve read so far. Thank you for making this point.


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