For Participants

Watch a video of Dr. Kreis discussing the LSSAWR study

An Interview with Dr. Kreis

1. Can you describe what this study is about?
The LSSAWR is designed to assess satisfaction levels of Roman Catholic Apostolic women religious individually and communally as they discern their on-going commitment to religious life (see Areas of Assessment). It can also assess satisfaction levels across generations of women religious. Participants in our studies can receive their LSSAWR scores immediately! The LSSAWR research project is currently supported by Duquesne University and through a generous grant received from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. It is now focused on the design of a manual for the LSSAWR as well as on the extension of the LSSAWR to the youngest and Spanish speaking women religious.

2. What inspired you to study this topic?
Over the years I have seen wonderful women join but also leave religious life. This evoked in me the question of "why women would enter and stay" in religious life today. To help us better understand these questions and the commitment of women religious to this life form, I decided to develop an empirical instrument known as the LSSAWR. The LSSAWR is a psycho-metrically sound scale that produces reliable scores and valid score interpretations. This instrument can objectively inform the individual sister as well as congregations of sisters about their levels and areas of satisfaction with religious life. The five areas are as follows: Congregational Character, Individual Well-Being, Membership Viability, Holistic Growth & Commitment, and Inter-Relationships. For more information please visit the "Areas of Assessment" tab. 

3. Where do you see religious life heading?
Honestly, I think that no single person knows where religious life is heading. The future of religious life will emerge ever more gently and visibly among those women, who follow Jesus, are inspired by their vows, and committed to live this chosen life form to the fullest by responding to the needs of society locally, nationally, and world-wide.

4. How do you see this study impacting religious life?
In collaboration with Dr. Cecil Reynolds and our research team, we anticipate that the LSSAWR could be made internationally available in the near future. Information gleaned from this research could hopefully assist women religious globally to make choices that will assist the transition of religious life into a viable future. More immediately we hope that the LSSAWR (once accessible to women religious) will be used for a variety of reasons: An individual sister could take the LSSAWR while on retreat as she reflects on her vocation as a woman religious; or women in various stages of formation could use it to assess their personal satisfaction with religious life and to facilitate conversations with their mentors and leadership; or sisters might use it, who are in transition between ministries or community living situations; or congregational leaders might use it as they assess the state of their congregation and the viability across generations of their membership before their assemblies or chapters.

5. What kind of participants are you looking for, and why?
The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation is supporting the LSSAWR research project with a generous grant so that the LSSAWR can now be made available to the youngest cohorts as well as Spanish and German speaking sisters in religious life. Thus our research team is interested in inviting sisters of all generation cohorts to participate and we are hoping that the younger women religious (born 1961 and later) will particularly volunteer their participation so that the LSSAWR can be made available to them as well in the near future. We are also hoping that Spanish and German speaking sisters will volunteer their participation so that the LSSAWR can be made globally available.

6. Are there any "Benefits" to the participants in being a part of this study?
Any sister, who participates in our current studies, can choose to receive immediate feedback on her LSSAWR scores at the end of the online-survey. Furthermore, sisters who recently and formerly have participated in the LSSAWR development have expressed positive feedback such as it was "an informative, valuable, enriching, inspiring, spiritual, affirming, life-giving, ... experience." Congregational leadership teams have expressed an interest to participate as a congregation, in order to receive aggregated feedback on the results of their membership. (Please be aware that the individual responses of sisters are kept confidential!).

7. Is there anything you'd like the participants to know?
Yes, this LSSAWR research project is about the life of Roman Catholic apostolic women religious and can assist its vitality into the future. It has emerged from a sacred sharing of women religious for women religious. We, the LSSAWR research team, see ourselves as instruments through which this sacred sharing can get translated into an objective tool and then used by women religious. Furthermore, we also hope that passionate and deeper conversations can emerge as women religious will have access to this objective tool (LSSAWR). Finally, we also hope that the generous participation of women religious of all generation cohorts, diverse backgrounds, and nationalities will support the ongoing research efforts so that the LSSAWR project will remain grounded in continued empirical research.

8. How can someone who is interested in this study or has questions contact you?
Anyone interested in the LSSAWR research project can contact the research team at our email address For those who would like to speak to me directly please contact me at either my email or at my work phone number (412-499-0550).

Participant Cover Letter

Dissertation: Copyright © May 22, 2010; for entire text (including the LSSAWR) by Maria Clara Kreis C.D.P., Ph.D.; The Library of Congress, United States Copyright Office