"Religious life in the U.S. continues to transform with emerging forms, partnerships and relationships, according to an evaluation of the GHR Foundation's Sister Support Initiative. 'The dominant narrative of decline is being gradually replaced by a new narrative of collaboration, reconfiguration, and a sense that the quality of presence that sisters bring is more important than their numbers,' the report said.
That is one of the central themes of the report, released Sept. 15, which served as an assessment of the GHR Foundation's investment in the Sister Support Initiative and a look at the state, and transformation, of religious life in the U.S.
Since 2010, GHR has focused on supporting Catholic sisters in this transition, specifically on four areas: leadership, membership, resource development and new forms. The new forms include collaboratives, budding movements and organizations such as 'Nuns and Nones,' described in the report as 'a growing intergenerational, spiritually diverse multiracial drawing on the wisdom and traditions of women religious.'
'We're beginning to see the building blocks of a different narrative: the charism of religious life, resilience, collaboration, increased focus on 'the life' itself, increasing diversity,' senior program officer Kathleen Mahoney said in an email interview. 'I was taken by the words of a younger sister who said that she entered only knowing smaller communities — that smaller was okay and expected. That's the current lived experience for younger sisters.'
GHR is now winding down this initiative, which provided a timely moment to look back and assess, through the grants it has made and programs it has helped foster, how religious life has evolved over the past decade and what may lie ahead for sisters in this country, said Mahoney, who is retiring in October.
Program officers Yende Anderson and Tarra McNally will be overseeing the remaining grants."