Mystical Wisdom: Following Spirits Becoming – LCWR Conference 2022

By Sister Joan Dawber

The Leadership Conference of Religious Women (LCWR) held its annual assembly in  person for the first time since 2019.  More than 700 members attended this gathering in St. Louise from August 9 – 12, 2022,  four of whom were from the Sisters of Charity – Halifax leadership team. It was a privilege to gather with so many leaders from all over the United States. 

The theme of the conference was Mystical Wisdom: Following Spirits Becoming. It was an opportunity for us to explore Mystical Wisdom with each other as we women religious know ourselves called into/from the future.  

A highlight for me were two conversations between Constance FitzGerald, OCD and M. Shawn Copeland as they engaged each other around their understanding of the Dark Night and the ramifications for our congregations, our lives, our earth and our world. These conversations were grounded in a contemplative way of living, in contemplative prayer, contemplative dialogue. That is the lived reality of our lives. Copeland quoted Barbara Holms said “The world is the cloister of the contemplative” and goes further to say it is where we find God and where God draws us to wounded people.

They began by looking at our contemporary experience; the failure of globalization, mass migration, fires, floods, violence, racism, pandemic, vulnerability of people on the earth, cosmic vision – fragility of the earth and drew us into an image of place, a loss of place, and displacement. They related this loss of place to the Dark Night to humanity’s situation of loss and brokenness. Taking this a step further they related it also to the vulnerability of religious life and the displacement we are experiencing, closing of buildings (Motherhouses), selling property, diminishment, death and completion. 

The conversation again turned to the Dark Night and how we understand the Dark Night in religious life and in the world. Constance FitzGerald stated,  “It is clear that religious women are being more and more readied through the contemplative movement, contemplative dialogue and deepening desire year after year for communion and a readiness to move on.” She also indicated that this signals that our present and future are dependent on understanding and deepening this movement. FitzGerald’s question was, “What is the mystical wisdom that the sisters are seeking in a world of continued evolution and ongoing awkenness?”

She explained that mystical wisdom, loving wisdom, loving knowledge, mystical theology, contemplation and dark night all speak of the inflow of God into the soul. It is a presence that refines and transforms and brings us to a whole new state of identity. A whole new stage of emerging, always deeper and deeper and a closer identity with Christ, leaving behind what no longer serves for a new place, a new stage of consciousness. 

This deepening in us as we continue to live in a contemplative way calls us into a self-hood that is more and more communal which is leading us into a new form of religious life. It is this inflow of God that takes us to the poor, the dispossessed, despised, and excluded. It brings us to Christ on the cross. 

I see this happening in our congregation as we continue to be with each other in contemplative circles. In our personal and communal vulnerability we are being drawn closer and closer to each other and becoming a communal presence of love in our world. It is not a physical place but rather a communal place of the heart for the sake of the other. 

 “Christ longs for us to join in communicating compassion across the currents 

of human consciousness” – Constance FitzGerald, OCD 

More Charity Alive – November 2022


We share a few of the heartwarming stories from our benefactors. You will read of their inspiration to serve and share in our joyful witness to love.

Art Walk

Art Walk, Season 1 (see videos below) is an online presentation of some of the works of art done by Sisters of Charity, former sisters and associates over the years.

SOAR — Fundraising Dinner

Sister Maryann Seton Lopiccolo was awarded the Victor Yanitelli SJ Award in honor of her service at the Diocese of Brooklyn as Episcopal Delegate for Religious for 40 years.

Bursting With Pride at ATRI

I have often been proud to be a Sister of Charity of Halifax. Sometimes it was because of a prophetic and courageous stance on a serious issue. Most often, it was because of the witness to the charism of charity in the life and ministry of individual Sisters.

More Charity Alive – August 2022

Ebony Etchings

I invite each of you to join me in my exploration of my home space, my heart space, my God space where I live my truth as an African Nova Scotian woman and a member of the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent DePaul, Halifax.

Associate Retreat May 2022

A sense of peace and serenity welcomed fellow Long Island/Queens Associates Betty Erdos, Helen Ogden, Mickey Madden, Ann Masters and me when we arrived at the tranquil and cozy house on the eastern bay for the weekend of May 20–22, 2022.

Charity Alive – April 2022

Assembly 2022

There was excitement in the air. The preparations were done. The cloud technology held the livestreaming capacity ready. The sending off of the Halifax bus, carpools from Wellesley, various New York Toyotas wending their way up Route 95 to Boston, short trips, long air flights, all culminating in hugs and cheers, and a sigh of relief. We were finally together again.

Book Review: Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents

As the cover of Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents states: this book is a beautifully written, original, revealing story of people and history, in which Isabelle Wilkerson examines the unspoken caste system that has shaped America. She links the caste systems of America, India and Nazi Germany. The book was an eye-opener.

Issues of Charity Alive

2022-11-02T21:55:55+00:00By |Comments Off on Mystical Wisdom: Following Spirits Becoming – LCWR Conference 2022
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