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Sister Nancy Reynolds and the ‘Power of Sisterhood’

Sister Nancy Reynolds

Sister Nancy Reynolds

Several years ago, the Vatican called for an Apostolic Visitation of women religious in the United States.

The reasoning behind the visitation was to examine their quality of life.

“That is a most unusual reason for an apostolic visitation,” Sister of Providence Sister Nancy Reynolds recently said. “Usually, visitations are warranted when there has been some abuse that comes to the attention of Rome and the visitation is initiated to look into the abuse and the cause of the abuse and correct the problem.

“There was no problem mentioned here other than the decline in the numbers of women religious in the United States.”

After news broke of the visitation, Sister Nancy began working with two canon lawyers. Sister Nancy is also a canon lawyer.

The three traveled across the country offering presentations of what an apostolic visitation is and what was happening. At the time, Sister Nancy served on the Sisters of Providence General Council.

“I spent close to one year doing this,” Sister Nancy said.

In 2009, during the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) meeting, Sister Nancy was asked to speak to a larger Congregation about the visitation.

Sister Nancy said the meeting sparked a grassroots group of nine sisters representing four Congregations.

That group formulated a survey to send to all LCWR member Congregations.

The results of the survey were formed into “Power of Sisterhood: Women Religious Tell the Story of the Apostolic Visitation.”

“Once we got the results of the survey, we made the decision to publish a book with several chapters that would tell the story of what the visitation was like from the perspective of the leadership of the Congregations,” Sister Nancy said.

Sister Nancy was one of the nine authors of the book. She was joined by Margaret Cain McCarthy, and Sisters Marcia Allen, CSJ; Donna Day, SL; Cathy Mueller, SJ; Addie Lorraine Walker, SSND; Patricia Walter, OP; Jean Wincek, CSJ; and Mary Ann Zollman, BVM.

“The writing of Chapter 3 was done after looking up the details of all the letters, press releases, statements, decrees, etc., that came from either Cardinal Franc Rode (former Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life) or Mother Mary Clare Millea (who conducted the visitation),” Sister Nancy said.

The results of the visitation were announced on Dec. 16, 2014. Many sisters nationwide viewed the results as positive.

“In my opinion, the best result of the visitation for the women religious in the United States was the solidarity that came about when the different Congregations began talking with one another and pulled together in responding to the material in the visitation process,” Sister Nancy said. “That spirit is a gift and continues to exist among Congregations.”

On Dec. 10, 2014, 10 of the 11 authors of the book conducted a press conference at Loyola University in Chicago. Sister Nancy was among them.

“When I finished my brief summary of the chapter, I indicated that I did not think that the report of the visitation that would be released would be anything but positive,” Sister Nancy said. “I felt there was not going to be anything earth shattering in the report. And, that was true.”

The book is currently available at Linden Leaf Gifts.

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Jason Moon

Jason Moon serves as media relations manager for the Sisters of Providence. Previously, he spent more than 16 years in the newspaper industry.

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2 Comments

  1. Carol Nolan, S.P. on January 22, 2015 at 12:12 pm

    Thanks, Jason, for this excellent run-down of Sister Nancy’s important role in helping us and other communities deal with the Inviestigation.

  2. Jeanie Reime Heller on January 29, 2015 at 11:49 am

    Three cheers for Sister Nancy Reynolds. I know this was a huge effort by her and the others who worked on it – important to all the orders and each one of the sisters. I hope that there is much more praise from the Pope and others in the Vatican, and in the hierarchy in the U.S. – what the sisters are doing is so wonderful!

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