Sharing their voice by ‘Giving Voice’
Recently, Sister Hannah Corbin and Sister Tracey Horan attended the Giving Voice National Conference in Kansas City.
For both, it was the first time they have attended the three-day event. According to Sister Tracey, the event is geared toward younger women religious in order to let them voice their hopes, dreams and challenges in religious life.
The conference had a lasting effect on both Sister Hannah and Sister Tracey.
“There was just a unique energy about having more than 70 women religious under the age of 50 there, nodding their heads and recognizing that yes, we share this experience,” Sister Tracey said. “I’m feeling encouraged. I could just feel an energy in the room. It gave me permission to voice some dreams and thoughts I hadn’t voiced before.
“We’re breathing this new air.”
“Over the past few years, just getting caught up in all the planning for the sisters in retirement, I forgot to breathe that new fresh air,” Sister Hannah added. “The conference reminded me to keep dreaming. I had forgotten to dream in the midst of all the changes that are going on with the Sisters of Providence. The conference was a breath of fresh air.”
Sister Tracey said this year’s conference focused on crossing boundaries in religious life.
“There was a lot of conversation around crossing boundaries, even within our own communities, being intergenerational and intercultural. We spent time reflecting on what we need to do to make sure the various voices are being heard,” Sister Tracey said.
“We talked a lot about ethnicity and the culture of religious life,” Sister Hannah added. “A lot of what we talked about had to do with the changing face of religious life. It is changing to actually match the makeup of the Catholic Church right now. How do we make that transition? How do we go from a culture where most of the sisters are white women to one that is ethnically and linguistically diverse?”
“This reflects the Catholic Church right now,” Sister Hannah said. “What does that mean for religious life? How do we shape that? I think as women in formation, we’ve already started engaging in that conversation.”
“It was really interesting to me,” Sister Tracey said. “At one point, a speaker asked the question, ‘How many of you were born in a different country?’ I think almost half of the women raised their hands.
“Just being aware of that and recognizing how that impacts how we are together, that was really eye-opening.”
Both Sister Tracey and Sister Hannah said they have discussed the conference with other Sisters of Providence since returning, and added they are encouraged with the responses they have received.
“We have reached out to other sisters and we’ve gotten a lot of feedback,” Sister Tracey said. “For some of them, it brought them back to the time when they started religious life. I was really encouraged by that support. We’re really in a space to reflect on this as a community. I think it will definitely have an impact.”