Nancy Sylvester, IHM founded the Institute for Communal Contemplation and Dialogue (ICCD) in 2002 in response to her experiences working for justice and right relationships in church and in society. She serves as President of the Institute and as Executive Director designing, planning, and implementing, the Institute’s various programs. Nancy brings to this project her commitment to dialogue and collaborative work style. Nancy is committed to the transforming power of communal contemplation in one’s life and the life of the community. She believes it invites the shifts in consciousness so necessary to embrace our evolutionary journey and engage the critical issues facing us in ways that foster dialogue, relationships, compassion and justice.
Nancy completed her three-year term as President of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in 2001 and served as vice president of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Monroe, MI from 1994-2000. She served on staff of NETWORK, a national Catholic social justice lobby, from 1977-1992, first as researcher, then lobbyist and beginning in 1982 as National Coordinator and board member of NETWORK. Prior to NETWORK, Nancy taught secondary education in the Detroit, Michigan metropolitan area.
Nancy is an author and known speaker having addressed diocesan conferences, university institutes, assemblies of women religious and major national and international conferences. She has lectured widely on a number of topics including: contemplation, the transformation of consciousness, living in a time of chaos, societal shifts in the world and church; leadership for transformation; the new universe story; and Catholic social justice teaching.
Engaging Impasse: Circles of Contemplation and Dialogue was the major program for ICCD in its first years. During the Vatican investigation of women’s religious congregations, ICCD offered Engaging the Impasse of the Vatican Investigation to a number of LCWR regions. Nancy has served numerous congregations by designing processes to deepen both individual and congregational commitments to contemplation and to invite deepening conversations on the issues facing them. ICCD has a virtual Contemplative Sitting Network with close to 1,000 participating. ICCD’s newest offering is Enter the Chaos-Engage the Differences to Make a Difference.
Nancy is one of the persons featured in the documentary, Band of Sisters. She wrote for and co-edited Crucible for Change: Engaging Impasse through Communal Contemplation and Dialogueand currently writes for the Global Sisters Report, in a series “Contemplate This”. Her reflection on “Integrating Contemplative Practices into Leadership” is featured in Transformational Leadership edited by Annmarie Sanders, IHM and her article, “The Call to Live Love in the 21st Century” was published in the Winter 2017 edition of LCWR’s
Occasional Papers. She wrote an essay in the book, Building Sisterhood: A Feminist History of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, published by Syracuse University Press. She co-authored a book with Maria Riley, OP, Trouble and Beauty: Women Encounter Catholic Social Teaching. Nancy’s articles have appeared in America, Sisters Today, Catholic World, and Maryknoll Magazine.
Nancy has served as advisor on the United States Bishops’ International Policy Committee. She has served on the National Board of Mary’s Pence; the National Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice, where she was a founding member; the National Board of the Africa Faith and Justice Network; the National Governing Board of Common Cause and on the Board of Trustees of Marygrove College, Detroit, MI.
Nancy did her undergraduate work at St. Louis University majoring in philosophy and political science. Her graduate degree, from St. Mary’s University, Winona, MN, is in human development with a concentration in economics and theology.
Nancy loves to dance, sing show tunes, and read mysteries. She enjoys being by the water and walking in nature.