The new life of Easter is evident as we experience the abundance of being Easter people! This newness in these early days of the Easter season is particularly manifest in some good news we would like to share with you, our constituents.
The Leadership Collaborative (LC) and the Religious Formation Conference (RFC) have a long history of collaboration. Over the past several years this collaborative spirit has gained focus and clarity. Since midsummer of 2022, the Governance Boards of both organizations have engaged in a discernment process facilitated by Janet Mock, CSJ. The discernment process provided an opportunity to listen attentively to the needs of both organizations and envision how they can serve religious life now and into the future. As the dialogue unfolded, it was clear there existed synergy between the missions as well as programs and operations, inviting the organizations to explore a deepened working relationship.
We are excited to announce that the Leadership Collaborative and the Religious Formation Conference are entering into a 3-year pilot initiative that embraces shared leadership and collaboration in administration and programming.
We want to be clear: this is not a merger of the organizations. The LC and the RFC will remain autonomous in mission, governance, finances, and other organizational matters. Instead of one leader overseeing each organization, a co-leadership model will be utilized by both.
Effective July 1, 2023, we are appointing Linda Buck, CSJ and Ryan Hoffmann, DMin as Co-Executive Directors of the organizations. Together, they will oversee the LC and the RFC.
This new pilot structure is being created at a time of strength for both organizations. We believe the missions of each are well-aligned and that this new structure will provide more connection, resources, services, and innovation for our members and other constituents. We also believe this is a faithful response to the current and emerging realities of religious life.
Institutions everywhere are experiencing change and transformation, including the Catholic Church and religious life. As Pope Francis stated in 2015, “You can say today we are not living an era of change but a change of era.” In this spirit, leadership of both organizations continues to move forward in prayer and discernment, receptive to the dynamic invitation of the Holy Spirit.
During this Easter season, we are reminded that God is bringing something new into the world. We, too, embark on our own journey of new life and courageous hope for our shared future. Please pray for us during this time of transition and the beginning of this exciting endeavor.
Finally, we encourage you to read the question and answers (FAQs) for more information regarding this collaborative effort between the LC and the RFC.
Mary Hughes, OP and Montiel Rosenthal, SC (Collaborative Board) | Leadership Collaborative | thelc.global
Wayne Fitzpatrick, MM and Nancy Gerth, SCN (Board of Directors) | Religious Formation Conference | relforcon.org
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Are the Leadership Collaborative (LC) and the Religious Formation Conference (RFC) merging?
No. The LC and the RFC will remain autonomous in mission, governance, finances, and other organizational matters.
Why are these two organizations coming together?
The LC and the RFC have over 10 years of partnering and collaboration. The RFC has been a collaborating partner in the LC since its beginning and the Executive Director has consistently been an active LC Board member. This has allowed both organizations to get to know each other and understand how their mission and cultures align and complement one another. The LC and the RFC have collaborated on grants and programs that support the current and future needs of religious life. In fact, the two organizations are currently collaborating on a GHR grant, together with AHLMA, entitled “Interculturality and Intercongregationality: For Now and Into the Future.”
Further, both organizations share a commitment to personal and spiritual growth and the cultivation of leaders for the good of religious life. As those in consecrated life and other charism carriers (associates, co-members, affiliates, etc.) journey as leaders in ministry and in their congregations, many have taken advantage of leadership formation offered by the LC for ongoing formation and professional development. Likewise, the RFC fosters the leadership development of women and men religious through ForMission and components of the Life Commitment and Orientation to Formation programs.
Who’s in charge?
From its inception the LC has structured itself in an interdependent and circular model of relating. In addition, the RFC has drawn on the wisdom of its members to inform how programs and initiatives are created. Both organizations have a desire to work collaboratively internally, among staff and board members; and externally, with women and men religious, charism carriers, and other organizations that support religious life.
To align with this way of being, the co-leaders, Linda Buck, CSJ and Ryan Hoffmann, DMin, will possess equal oversight of and responsibility for the overall performance of both organizations. Each will have specific areas of focus and responsibility, yet they are mutual partners in co-leadership.
What will happen with staff?
Both organizations have a small staff that do big things! The teams will begin to strengthen their relationships and explore possible synergies and efficiencies.
We are a member of RFC. How does this impact our membership?
Nothing changes for members of the RFC. The LC is not a membership organization and thus anyone can access its offerings, based on the purpose of the gathering or program.
What will change for me or my congregation?
Whether you’re a member of the RFC or part of the LC network, little will change about how you relate to and access the services of both organizations (e.g., RFC members will continue to receive InFormation magazine on a quarterly basis and the LC will continue to publish their newsletter Inspire).
Given this pilot initiative, will LC and RFC programming change?
The organizations will continue to offer a wide array of excellent programs that those in religious life and charism carriers are accustomed to (e.g., ForMission, Collaborative Leadership Development Program). As the staff teams strengthen their relationships, they will explore programmatic synergies and identify areas of overlap and closer collaboration.
What happens at the end of the 3-year pilot?
Over the course of the next three years the LC and the RFC will deepen their relationship and remain open to where they are being called in the future. Formative and summative evaluative processes covering the span of these years will provide learnings and inform next steps.
The LC has been focused on women’s congregations and the RFC works with both men’s and women’s congregations. Will this change?
The RFC will continue to serve institutes of women and men religious. Congregations of male religious began joining the RFC in 1976 and have expanded and deepened the Conference’s work. In The Religious Formation Conference (1954-2004), Karen Kennelly, CSJ, writes that “the mutual exchange of perspectives among women and men religious facilitated by the Conference at congresses and workshops and in inter-community programs has enriched dialogue in significant ways” (p. 96). The RFC will continue to foster this type of mutual exchange and dialogue.
The LC was founded through collaboration among women’s congregations and continues to foster these relationships. The LC is dedicated to creating space for dialogue and networking among women religious. In addition, from its start, the LC included charism carriers (men and women) in their programs and network. The LC focuses on inter-congregational, inter-generational, and intercultural programming and relationship building and this will not change.
Most people know of the RFC. I have not heard of the other. What is the Leadership Collaborative (LC)?
The LC began in 2012 to foster leadership development among women religious and associates. A visionary group of sisters realized the need for the younger cohort of women religious to develop their skills as leaders for wherever they minister and within their congregations, not solely for elected leadership.
The Collaborative Leadership Development Program (CLDP) is beginning its 9th cohort. In addition to leadership formation, the LC also provides space for relationship building and creating a network for women religious to be agents of change, sharing and creating the current reality and emerging future of religious life. The LC is also a legacy partner for NACAR (North American Conference of Associates and Religious), providing a space for charism carriers (associates, co-members, affiliates, etc.) to foster their sense of vocation around a charism.
For more information about the RFC: relforcon.org