More than 80 young Catholic sisters will gather at the end of this week in St. Louis for a national gathering of Giving Voice, an organization formed by and for young Catholic sisters.
Giving Voice was founded in 1997 by a group of sisters looking for support from their own age group. Though the overall number of women religious in the United States is in decline, young women are very much still answering the call to the religious life.
The number of women entering religious life is much smaller than the number of congregations of women in the U.S. As a result, younger sisters sometimes find only one or two others from their own age group in their congregation.
Sister Nicole Trahan, a member of the Marianist Sisters appreciates living with sisters from different generations, but has appreciated the support she has through Giving Voice. “I enjoy being a part of and living in an intergenerational community. There have been many graces because of the intergenerationality,” She says, “However, it is a gift to be with women who come from similar contexts and have had similar influences on their lives.”
One way to develop closer companionship with other young sisters is to build networks of support across congregations, something some women see as the future of religious life.
Trahan says, “Giving Voice has been a true gift in my life. These are women with whom I have much in common, even though we come from different congregations. Because we are peers, we share common language and experiences. We have similar questions and dreams for our lives, for the Church and for our world.”
Sister Kathryn Press, a member of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, is one of the organizers for this month’s national gathering. She says “Giving Voice is a peer-led, grassroots national organization of Catholic Sisters under the age of 50 that creates spaces for younger women religious to give voice to their hopes, dreams and challenges in religious life.” Aside from the national gathering, Giving Voice hosts annual retreats for sisters in their 20s-30s and others for sisters in their 40s-50s.
In an interview on the Giving Voice website, Sister Kristin Matthes SDN, a founding member of Giving Voice, says that, “so often in our own communities we can be overwhelmed by the narrative of scarcity. Giving Voice allows for the narrative of abundance to happen. And being in that space with peers really helps make abundance possible.”
Sister Kathryn is looking forward to the national gathering as a chance to simply “be with so many sisters.” She says, “This group of sisters is vibrant, active, and alive with their faith and their vocations. It’s life-giving to be a part of it.”
This year’s national gathering theme centers on building communion. Sister Nicole is especially excited for these conversations. “I think it’s important for us to reflect on our call to be experts in communion and to be bridge builders in our Church and in our society right now,” she said.
The Jesuit Post will be hosting a Facebook Live conversation with sisters during the national gathering. That conversation will take place on Thursday June 28 at 7:30pm Central Standard Time. Make to check out our Facebook page on Thursday to hear more about these young sisters, their vocations, and their dreams for the future.