Sister Brigid Lawlor appointed as a Consultor to the Pope

Sister Brigid Lawlor has been appointed as a Consultor to the Pope at the Vatican office for religious. The appointment named her a Consultor for the Congregation for Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (CICLSAL).

The Vatican office has jurisdiction over all aspects of institutes of consecrated life (vowed religious) and societies of apostolic life (societies of men or women who live in common without vows). Responsibility includes governance, discipline, studies, and goods.

Sister Brigid’s experience with CICSAL

Sister Brigid already had a position at CICSAL as a Religious Assistant. In that role, she helped other religious congregations with specific issues that required assistance. 

“I had been vetted by CICLSAL after I finished my term as Congregational Leader in 2016,” Sr. Brigid said. 

“They were familiar with our work on the reunification of Our Lady of Charity (OLC) and Sisters of the Good Shepherd (RGS). They also were familiar with the 12-year relationship I had with CICLSAL personnel when I was in leadership in Rome,” she said.

As a Consultor to the Pope, Sister Brigid said she will provide advice to Pope Francis on the basis of need.

In light of her background, she anticipates being asked to advise him on justice issues, particularly poverty, human trafficking, immigration, and possibly racism. She believes he might also call on her to advise him in matters regarding women religious. 

In terms of the actual work to be assigned, Sr. Brigid said it will be based on theme and the time when a response is needed. She doesn’t believe the appointment has a certain time limit for serving.

On April 15, Sister Brigid attended a Zoom orientation for new appointees who now serve as Consultor to the Pope. The new Consultors met with the CICLSAL staff, the majority of whom are Cardinals. They are different people than those she worked with as Religious Assistant. She also met people who are already consultants.   

Being appointed Consultor to the Pope is a good sign for women in the Church

When asked how she felt about being selected for the appointment, Sr. Brigid said, “It is an honor to have been selected. It is also a good opportunity to continue to make known the Good Shepherd mission in the Church, as well as the mission of others.”

With a bit of humor, she continued, “Depending on what I am consulted about, I may have to do some consulting and research myself.” 

Sister Brigid is aware of the challenge that faces her and said, “I will be extremely grateful for your prayers as I move into this appointed position.” 

The majority of past appointees have been men. Sister Brigid said, “Seeing more women being appointed as Consultors is a good sign that things are slowly changing in the Church.”

20 Consultors appointed to Pope Francis

Pope Francis appointed 20 new Consultors from around the world to CICLSAL. The Congregation is headed by Brazilian Cardinal João Braz de Aviz. CICLSAL is located in front of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The Congregation for Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life dates back to May 27, 1586, when Pope Sixtus V founded it. To learn the history of the Congregation and to gain a deeper understanding of its purpose, visit https://bit.ly/3wBo00e

Jeanette McDermott

Jeanette McDermott

Jeanette is the Communications Coordinator for Sisters of the Good Shepherd Province of Mid-North America. She is a career photojournalist who has served in various capacities of print, broadcast, and corporate communications. Jeanette is devoted to creation and is particularly focused on saving pollinators and other wildlife species and their habitat. She is an ethical vegan and created the website veganstoryteller.com