Maybe they'll shoot next year's calender cover in Garden Grove...
Maybe they'll shoot next year's calender cover in Garden Grove...

Hundreds of Catholic Sisters Headed To OC For National Convention, Have A Mass Meditation Planned

Things are about to get hella holy around here. 

Next week, some 650 Catholic sisters from all over the country will convene in Garden Grove for the annual convention of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.  

Each year the conference -- an association of female Catholic leaders, founded in 1956 -- gets together for several days to network, talk business and hear keynote speakers. 

Although they'll still do all those typical things, this year's plan is a bit different than usual, says Sister Annmarie Sanders, the conference's director of communication.   

Each day the sisters are going to partake in group meditation of sorts, or "contemplative prayer" as Sanders describes it. "It involves silence and mediation and real listening to one another, not just normal conversations." 

During the process, the sisters will sit in silence, seek God's guidance and then share their thoughts on "seeing and structuring our lives in a new way to respond to all the changes of the new world." 

What kinds of changes? Well, the Catholic Church -- like most religious groups, for that matter -- have a bit of an age issue on their hands. The average sister in the conference is in her 70s.

"Every congregation is struggling with larger numbers of older members they have to care for and fewer young people coming in," Sanders says. "Our orders are becoming smaller and older, but we're asking 'What can we keep giving of ourselves and how would we draw a younger person to this life today?'"

The sisters in action at a previous gathering.
The sisters in action at a previous gathering.
Flickr user The Pluralism Project

Aside from seeking guidance on internal issues, the sisters will also use their time in Orange County to hear from some locals. "We're having some immigrants from the Garden Grove community come and speak, listening to people whose needs are great," Sanders says.

There's no expectation "that at the end of these few days a for sure thing about the future will come," Sanders says, but rather, it's one step in a long process of faith and listening to God and each other. 

So, meditate on, ladies. And to all you dudes who crash conventions looking for cougars, next week might be a good time to take off.
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