Just-published book tells sisters’ story of Apostolic Visitation

October 9, 2014 by

Sister Marcia Allen is one of the authors in a book published this week that tells of the story of the Vatican’s Apostolic Visitation of American Catholic women religious.

“Power of Sisterhood: Women Religious Tell the Story of the Apostolic Visitation” is a collection of essays published by University Press of America Inc.

Sister Marcia’s essay is titled “Living it Twice: Sources of Support and Inspiration” and makes up one of nine chapters in the book.

The book serves as an historical record of Apostolic Visitation initiated in 2008 by the Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life to examine the quality of life of women religious in the United States and describes the experience of the women who participated in the process.

Its essays frame the Visitation as a story, situate it in an historical and theological context, trace its chronology and detail the experience as revealed in a survey of American sisters. The book then delves into the deeper meaning of the Visitation for women religious as they experienced it and as they move into the future.

While a final Apostolic Visitation report was submitted to the Vatican in 2012, an official Vatican response is still pending. Co-author and co-editor Sister Mary Ann Zollmann, writes, “In this time of Vatican silence, we women religious have found our true voice and pierced the silence by our firm and courageous word and action. What we are saying and doing speaks, without compromise or equivocation, to our understanding of the identity and mission of religious life in our times, testifies to our joy-filled awareness that community is ever more expansive than what we had imagined it to be, and tells a story of redemption from fear evoked by external authority for freedom to live with courageous integrity.”

In her essay, Sister Marcia writes, writes, “The Apostolic Visitation is not something any congregation of women religious is eager to live twice; however, there’s a side to this story that bears repeating not just once but many times. It is the story of solidarity, of how thousands of sisters came together in their communities and across communities; the story of how their associates and coworkers came together around them and with them; the story of how family, friends, and veritable strangers all created a network of communication that held together through the months of uncertainty, creating a new reality of support and inspiration.”

“Despite the great contributions of women to the building of the church in America,” writes Sister Addie Lorraine Walker in another essay, “women continue to experience being marginalized: no seat at the table, no voice in the shaping of the report or follow-up decisions that impact the oversight of religious life, and no participation in the overall governance of the church.

“As an African American woman religious and practical theologian who was in leadership during the Apostolic Visitation and who now is reflecting on the results of the survey, I recognize immediately common themes in the story of the experience of the Apostolic Visitation story and my own story of struggle, marginalization, liberation, and hope. Opening up those common themes may perhaps give some hints of how we walk by faith together now and into the future.”

“Power of Sisterhood: Women Religious Tell the Story of the Apostolic Visitation” was co-edited by Margaret Cain McCarthy, PhD and Mary Ann Zollmann, BVM, PhD.

For ordering information and bios on all the authors, CLICK HERE.



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