Dalton: Council of Consecrated Women leaves a lasting legacy

08 February 2022

Appears in: Archdiocesan News

Some 48 years ago Archbishop Joseph MacNeil and eight congregational leaders met on Sept. 9, 1974 to share a dream and a vision for Consecrated Life in the Archdiocese of Edmonton.

One of the original eight Sisters (Gabrielle Fortier FJ) presently resides at Providence Centre. We are most grateful for the dreaming that took place with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is because of these nine people and countless others that we are able to share our story.

Read Archbishop Smith’s homily for the World Day of Consecrated Life

In 1974 Archbishop Joseph MacNeil established the Sisters’ Council for the 625 Sisters residing in the Archdiocese in 30 different Congregations.  This Sisters’ Council was a support for Religious life. It fostered communication among Congregations and with the Archbishop. It had representation to and from the different Deaneries of the Archdiocese. It fostered involvement of Religious Women in many committees and councils of the Archdiocesan Church, and it provided support and encouragement for Women Religious in rural catechetics.

On-going formation took place through the annual Assemblies which covered a wide range of topics. It was a very active group. In 1983 the name was changed to Council for Women Religious and Archbishop MacNeil named them an advisory body in the Archdiocese.

In 2007 the name was changed again to Council of Consecrated Women, to be more inclusive of all those living other forms of Religious Life in the Archdiocese. We owe much gratitude to the many sisters who took leadership of the CCW at different times and each one deserves our thanks for a rich history.

Today, in 2022, the situation is very different with 160 Sisters in 25 congregations living and working in the Archdiocese. In 2021, after two years of COVID-19 restrictions, no assemblies and meetings only by Zoom, the Council of Consecrated Women took the time to discuss and discern the future of this organization.

We received responses from many sisters giving input into this discernment and decision. The results indicated that the time of the Council of Consecrated Women as we knew it really is over. There were few volunteers available for leadership and it was becoming quite difficult to enter into an assembly as before.

The Council met with Archbishop Smith via Zoom and we mutually agreed to close this era.

In his letter to all of us, Archbishop Richard Smith shared this:

“We have much to be grateful for and we trust that God is working with the many seeds that we have planted over the years. What has been called into being to serve God’s purposes has now come to an end.  For all that has been, Thanks. To all that will be, Yes to the ongoing dreaming and vision.”

-Sr. Hazel Dalton U.J. is the chair of the Council of Consecrated Women