New President for Women Religious

GARDEN GROVE, Calif. (CNS) – Franciscan Sister Florence Deacon is the new president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, elected at the closing of the organization’s Aug. 9-12 annual assembly where members described themselves as “contemplative activists.”
Sister Deacon, director of her St. Francis, Wis.-based congregation, has represented Franciscans at the United Nations and around the world, including as director of the N.Y. office of Franciscan International. She has been an LCWR leader for the past 10 years at the regional and national levels.
According to organizers and participants at previous conventions, this year’s assembly drew a wider variety of congregations’ representatives from across the country, with a predominant number from the East Coast.
But attendees concluded that decreasing membership in a large number of religious communities requires a review of LCWR’s regional structure.
A survey conducted by the organization’s Strategic Operational Planning Committee projected that by 2012 there will be at least 100 fewer women religious in each region.
Currently, there are a total of 46,451 women consecrated to religious life in the country, down from 60,642 in 2007.
The women religious admitted there is an increasing need for solidarity, communion and partnership among them.
In talking about the future of LCWR and its membership, past president Dominican Sister Mary Hughes drew on the examples of saints who endured suffering and oppression but conveyed a message of reconciliation and forgiveness.
“Forgiveness emanates from freedom,” she said, “from tapping into a wellspring of compassion and it never pretends that all is well.”