Women Religious Theologians Intiative
Young Women Religious Theologians Intiative
This UISG theological initiative, with the funding of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, gathers more than 29 Women Religious Theologians from around the globe.
The aim is to reflect theologically on Religious Life taken into account different contexts and cultures enabling the sisters to write and present academic pieces and also be a resource for Congregations on Consecrated Life.
This Women Religious Theologians Initiative wishes, in the present moment of the World, Church, and Consecrated Life, to awaken new dawns of hope for Religious Life, nurturing the dialogue and reflection between Women Religious Theologians, Superior Generals, the Church, and Theology.
Sr. Pat Murray ibvm, as Executive Secretary of UISG, says:
"UISG began to search for the “new voices,” - women religious who were writing or presenting on religious life today from different cultural perspective, they were aware that there was a dirt of written materials and a lack of younger presenters. And so began the adventure of creating something new – an international multi-cultural community of sister theologians – who would begin to reflect together on the meaning and purpose of religious life today."
UISG sought the help of a group of sisters who had extensive previous experience of nurturing female religious life from a theological perspective.
Sr. Gemma Simmonds CJ (Director of the Religious Life Centre at the Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology (Cambridge);
Sr. Maria Cimperman RSCJ, Director of the Centre for Religious Life at Catholic Theological Union (Chicago)
Sr. Julia Prinz VDMF, Verbum Dei Spirituality Center in San Francisco
Interview with Sr. Maria Cimperman, RSCJ
"Being both a theologian and a sister, I love that I can bring my religious life into conversation with theology and to ask theology questions that come from experiences with the people, the environment, realities of the day. On the flip side, I love that theology asks questions of my religious life: who is this God that is so intimate to you and what does it look like in the way you pray, live the community and when you seek out where and how to serve? It is a beautiful dialogue and conversation: one forces me, as a religious, to look out into the world, my moral life, the social ethics; and the other one has me looking at what grounds my theology and where are my longings – I find that the longings of my colleagues are the longings I have and yet, we live them in a different way.
If the women religious are going to be on the peripheries, the existential as well as real, we have to ask questions that are troubling. And Church should be able to hold questions – that’s how we raise people, that they should be able to ask any question, because there’s enough in the Tradition to encounter it."
Interview with Sr. Julia Prinz, VDMF
"Without a solid foundation of theology, the religious life itself is going to be hard to be lived in the very secular society. Theology is giving you the ground to asking the questions that the reality needs and this, according to me, is incredibly important if you want to change the Church. If the synodal process is supposed to be successful, we will need theologically trained sisters from around the world."
Interview with Sr. Gemma Simmonds, CJ
"The renewal of the religious life is going to come from people, who have a real understanding of the theological underpinnings of it. We need to be doing the renewal of the religious life from within the very rich theology of religious life that comes from various disciplines.
We should ask ourselves: what kind of religious life do we want to be building in the future and how do we not only look at religious life objectively from the outside, but how do we self-critique from the inside? There is certainly a very loud and clear question coming from up about structures of leadership: how do we encourage a more synodal view of religious life that is about the participation of the ordinary members, of younger members, members from parts of the word that hadn’t had a strong voice in the Church? How do we incorporate all of this as part of our ongoing discernment, of what the Spirit is saying to the Church these days?"