Keynote Speaker

Mary Pellegrino, CSJ

From 2008 to 2018 Sr. Mary served as Congregational Moderator of her community, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Baden, Pa. From 2015 to 2018 Mary also served in the presidency of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) in the United States. In both of those roles Mary worked to support, encourage and promote the ongoing renewal of religious life in the face of unprecedented challenges and changes in the church, American society and the global community. Currently, Mary assists religious communities in planning for the future through the lens of mission in her role with the Religious Institutes Service Group of Plante Moran, PLLC. Prior to serving in congregational leadership, Mary served in vocation/formation ministries for her congregation as well as parish and campus ministries. Over the years Mary has written and presented extensively on topics related to vocation/formation and religious life. She holds a Master’s degree in Christian Spirituality and a certificate in Spiritual and Retreat Direction from Creighton University, along with a Master’s degree in Religious Education from Fordham University.

From Strings to Yeast: Shifting the Narrative from Scarcity to Abundance: A transformation of religious life throughout the world has been underway for decades. At times, the changes have left many anxious and concerned about mission and purpose and whether women religious are or have “enough.” In this keynote Sr. Mary will explore how the Covid-19 pandemic and the global racial justice movement have both accelerated those questions and illuminated a path forward marked by renewed opportunities and understandings of abundance and abundant opportunity for women religious.


Featured Speakers

Ogechi Akalegbere

Ogechi Akalegbere is a Nigerian-American who is a Christian Service Coordinator, public speaker, competitive powerlifter, and fitness instructor. Ogechi grew up in and lives in Gaithersburg, Maryland and when she is not at work or creating digital content she is either enjoying quality time with her husband of three years or at the gym lifting weights. She has a passion for social justice, empowering women to find their inner and outer strength and service to those in the margins. She serves as a catechist, lector, and pastoral council co-chair at her parish and is involved as a community organizer and diversity practitioner in her community. Ogechi uses her training as an equity facilitator and co-practitioner to help parishes, organizations, and small groups digest what equity means to them and those they encounter.

Reframing with Truth and Self Examination: The framing and messaging of racial inequity in the Catholic Church and this country has been at the forefront of minds and hearts over the past year. As the country grappled with the COVID 19 pandemic, we also grappled with the consequences of racial injustice brought to to the forefront of the minds of parishioners. The result of this was a series of statements and messaging from major institutions. These session will dive deep into the history of anti racism in the Catholic Church and how the people of the church have played both active and passive roles in perpetuating racism in this country and the after affects of these actions. Later Ogechi will share practical ways women religious can better recognize implicit bias to provide justice focused messaging in their communities. Hands on activities will give attendees tools to move messaging around racial, socioeconomic and other injustices with grace.


Annmarie Sanders, IHM

Annmarie Sanders, IHM, will provide vital insight for the work of advancing the mission of Catholic sisters in this period of transition and uncertainty. Sr. Annmarie, is the Director of Communications for the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and a longtime CWR member.

Discerning Our Emerging Future: This initiative was created by LCWR to support institutes of women religious as they explore together how collectively to organize for mission at a time of dramatic change. The initiative provides a path into the future marked by collaboration and creativity, as well as support and solidarity. The accelerated pace of change in religious institutes points to an urgent need to work across religious institutes to create new sustainable structures that assure a future for religious life.