First Federation of Visitation Sisters Launches New Website in Light of Cor Orans

 St. Francis De Sales giving St. Jane de Chantal the Rule of the Order of the Visitation. Image in the Public Domain.

St. Francis De Sales giving St. Jane de Chantal the Rule of the Order of the Visitation. Image in the Public Domain.

To comply with the requirements of recent Vatican documents, the Visitation Sisters of the First Federation in the United States have taken some important steps.

They’ve launched a website, and are taking other steps as well.

“With the publication of Vultum Dei Quaerere and its implementing instruction Cor Orans, the Visitation Order will be revising its Constitutions and related documents to bring them in line with those two documents,” said Sister Sharon Elizabeth Gworek, of the Toledo Visitation.

“A committee has been formed to undertake this task and it is being accompanied by the prayer of all the sisters,” she said.

The Apostolic Constitution Vultum Dei Quaerere, or "Seeking the face of God," was issued by Pope Francis in 2016. In turn, the document on how to apply the constitution, Cor Orans, or “Praying Heart,” was issued by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life in May.

Part of the effort by the sisters was to build a website that lists the six monasteries of the Federation. The website, at VisitationSistersFirstFederation.org, was designed by Vocation Promotion, and was launched Nov. 9, the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica.

The sisters’ website includes photos and links to all six monasteries in the federation, which are those of Mobile, AL; Rockville, VA; Philadelphia, PA; Snellville, GA; Toledo, OH; and Tyringham, MA.

Here are some Q & A about the Visitation Sisters of the First Federation:

What is the main purpose of a Visitation Sister?

We are contemplative nuns founded by St Francis de Sales and St Jane de Chantal "to give to God daughters of prayer." As contemplatives we live in the heart of the Church and like our Blessed Mother who accompanied the early Church in the Upper Room, we lift the Church and the World to the Heart of Christ through our prayer and sacrifice.

What is the First Federation, briefly?

The First Federation is one of two federations of Visitation nuns in the United States. The federations serve as a source of communion and mutual support for the monasteries especially since each monastery is autonomous. The federations help us to strengthen the bond of love that unites us to one another.

Why was the First Federation website started?

The website was started to provide one source with the links to all the monasteries in our federation in order to make us better known. Also, if another site would like links to our monasteries, this one link can be used and includes all.

Is contemplative life flourishing today?

This is a difficult question to answer. Some monasteries are seeing vocations. The same applies to the various Orders - some monasteries within an Order are receiving vocations and others may be struggling. Only God knows the reason. However, if by flourishing we mean the lived experience of the contemplative life - yes, it is flourishing in the life of each contemplative nun.

Is contemplative life still relevant today?

To answer this question we quote from Vultum Dei Quaerere, No. 6: “Dear contemplative sisters, without you what would the Church be like, or without all those others living on the fringes of humanity and ministering in the outposts of evangelization? The Church greatly esteems your life of complete self-giving. The Church counts on your prayers and on your self-sacrifice to bring today’s men and women to the good news of the Gospel. The Church needs you! It is not easy for the world, or at least that large part of it dominated by the mindset of power, wealth and consumerism, to understand your particular vocation and your hidden mission; and yet it needs them immensely. The world needs you every bit as much as a sailor on the high seas needs a beacon to guide him to a safe haven. Be beacons to those near to you and, above all, to those far away. Be torches to guide men and women along their journey through the dark night of time. Be sentinels of the morning (cf. Is 21:11-12), heralding the dawn (cf. Lk 1:78). By your transfigured life, and with simple words pondered in silence, shows us the One who is the way, and the truth and the life (cf. Jn 14:6)....”