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Sr. Ellen Maroney attends the UISG Plenary Session in Rome

The International Union of Superiors General is an inter­national forum where heads of Catholic women’s religious institutes can share experiences, exchange information and ac­company each other in carrying out their mission. The aim is to promote dialogue and collaboration among religious congrega­tions in the Church and society. Today, membership in the UISG includes 1,858 General Superiors, leaders both of pontifical Institutes and diocesan Institutes, representing more than 470,000 women religious. A plenary session is held every three years for the members.

This year was the 50th anniversary of the founding of UISG, and I was privileged to be among the 854 women religious from more than 80 different countries in attendance. The theme for our gathering was: “Weaving Global Solidarity for Life: That They May Have Life and Have It to the Full.”

The principal speakers we heard throughout the conference developed the main theme from various perspec­tives (link to speeches and to the other events of the conference: Each of the presentations was followed by some quiet time and then table conversations. Tables were randomly selected to give summaries of their discussions to the large groups. As you can imagine, the dialogue was rich and deep, with so many cultural contexts brought in to the conversations. (At my table were sisters from Ghana, the Philippines, Nigeria, Ireland, Uganda, India, Italy, and the United States). We also heard from a panel of young religious (from China, Bolivia, the United States, Germany, the Congo, and Ivory Coast who discussed their views of religious life now and into the future) and another panel of speakers on the migrant situation in the world and trafficking. An audience with Pope Francis was held on the day I was leaving to return home.

The entire experience was deeply enriching and also challenging for me personally and, I believe, for the future of religious life throughout the world. A spirit of hope and solidarity permeated the week even amid the harsh realities of life in many of the third world countries. New relationships were formed, and commitments made to continue the spirit of global solidarity among women religious. “Let us not do alone what we can do together.”    - written by Sr. Ellen Maroney


UISG Plenary Session Rome 2016
Sister Ellen and the sisters who were seated together during the UISG Plenary Assembly in Rome, May 9-13, 2016. The sisters at the table were from Ghana, the Philippines, Nigeria, Ireland, Uganda, India, Italy and the United States.