Transforming Grace, Transforming Consciousness, and Transforming Justice

Three representatives from the Sisters of St. Dominic of Amityville Congregation – Leadership Council Member Sister Diane Morgan, Co-Director of the Communications Office Debbie DeRupo, and Justice Promoter Sister Emily Masse – attended the Leadership Conference of Women Religious event called “Transforming Grace, Transforming Consciousness, and Transforming Justice” in Pittsburg, PA on Sunday, April 28th to Wednesday, May 1st.

The objective of the meeting was “to gather elected leaders, communicators and justice promoters to deepen, design and continue the work of readying ourselves for transformation…exploring the unique contributions Religious life can make in the efforts to transform, ourselves, our institutes and the world we serve,” according to the agenda of the event.

Eighty-seven Religious Congregations were represented including sisters, brothers, and laity. Although they were from different cultures and political ideologies, attendees were respectful and open to ideas as well as united in a shared mission of transformation.

“All 242 participants were asked to keep their eyes focused on the Gospel mandate, Catholic Social teaching, and Jesus Christ,” said Sister Emily Masse.

“I kept coming back to the idea that we need to give ourselves and others the grace to be wrong, to change our perspective, to not have all the answers,” said Debra DeRupo, “Instead, we should see the value of a person who can evolve and learn from mistakes or misconceptions. Humanity is imperfect, we should embrace that.”

Keynote Speakers included S. Elise Garcia, OP and S. Chris Koehlhoffer, IHM. The event was organized by Sister Carol Zinn, SSJ; Bridget Bearss, RSCJ; and Annmarie Sanders, IHM.

Sister Diane Morgan found inspiration in a quote from Sister Chris Koellhoffer, IHM, in her videotaped keynote address, “What is ours to do in this beautiful yet wounded world?”

Sister Emily Masse was impressed with the recounting of ongoing transformation in Religious life, explaining how “in the past Religious Congregations have been focused on direct service to unmet needs…then came systemic change with the help of NETWORK (an advocacy group founded 50 years ago, inspired by Catholic sisters) to move into political advocacy with a transformation of consciousness to join the rest of the world.”

To learn more about the Transforming Grace initiative and to read reflections, go to the LCWR website. A video from the group Stand Together was shared at the conference and may help us understand how we may shift our consciousness. It is only eight minutes long but is powerful. Watch it here.