Reflecting on Leadership
“Whatever our personal choice was of nominee for president, it seems valuable to reflect on this moment.”
As I took my morning walk down to the lake, I reflected on the moment of the first woman to be the presumptive nominee for president in this country.
I was also reflecting on Sister Suzanne Dailey’s blog on our upcoming General Chapter and choosing a new leadership team for the Sisters of Providence. I began to reflect on the contrasts in the national election process and in leadership opportunities for women that religious life has provided.
As Sister Suzanne mentioned, there is no advertising, no campaigns, but a prayerful, reflective type of atmosphere that engages our entire religious community in our Chapter and election process.
In our community, this is not a competitive venture to prove oneself the best candidate. Rather, nominees come with an open heart to look at the leadership gifts the whole community has deemed necessary for the next five years. They come with a desire to offer their personal gifts if that would best serve the common good. Not only do our nominees for leadership discern and offer their own gifts, they are eager to affirm the gifts that other sisters have to offer. The goal is to offer the community the best possible choice for a team to provide collaborative leadership in the next five years.
Then, I reflected on the unique opportunity religious life has offered women to develop, hone and to use their leadership skills. Women in religious communities, like our own Mother Theodore Guerin in 1840, were entrepreneurs, breaking new ground in society. Passionate about education for women and girls, she led a community that provided new opportunities for women to claim their rightful place in church and in society.
Women like Mother Theodore did this at great cost to themselves and to their communities to advance women’s rights for the good of church and society. She did this against all odds, facing criticism and harsh consequences from the church she loved, from a society with fears of new immigrants and Catholics and educated women. This was a church and a society not used to women like Mother Theodore Guerin with such impressive administrative skills and leadership ability.
Yes, Mother Theodore Guerin, today we are proudly standing on the shoulders of women like you who believed that church and society would be best served if the gifts and participation of women were equally valued and accepted.