November 25, 1919-November 25, 2010
Lillanna Kopp died April 24, 2011. She was 91.
Lillanna Kopp was born Nov. 25, 1919, in Bozeman, Mont. She graduated from Roosevelt High School in Portland in 1937 and entered the Convent of the Sisters of Holy Names in Marylhurst and took the name Sister Mary Audrey with her vows. She earned degrees in education and psychology from Marylhurst College and Seattle University. She earned a doctorate degree in sociology from St. Louis University in 1960. She taught at St. Peter, Our Lady of the Lake, and The Madeleine School of the greater Portland area, and St. Mary’s of Medford. She was the principal at The Christie School and the Job Corps director of Center Life at Tongue Point Women’s Center. She also held teaching positions in sociology and anthropology at Webster College, Marylhurst College, the World Campus Afloat for Chapman College and Portland Community College. She founded Sisters for Christian Community in 1970 in her North Portland home.
Non-Canonical Nuns Give Sisters a 2nd Choice
George W Cornell
March 30, 1985
With official ranks of Roman Catholic nuns thinning and some of them under a Vatican cloud, a pioneering, independent corps of sisters is flourishing and setting a new pattern of religious vocation.
It is also welcoming any of the 24 nuns who are facing a Vatican ultimatum and who cannot in good conscience comply with it. There was some speculation, however, that the ultimatum may be quietly dropped.
Whatever the outcome, “we wanted to assure them of an alternative for continuing their sisterhood,” says Sister Lillanna Kopp, a founder of the nationwide Sisters for Christian Community.
As a non-canonical company of sisters, it has chosen not to apply for Vatican approval. However, 90% of its 600 members previously belonged to canonical orders, having left in the recent tide that is shrinking them.
Rapid Growth Claimed
“The new group is growing steadily,” said Kopp of Wallport, Ore., in contrast to the overall decline of regular communities of nuns. “It’s the fastest-growing sisterhood in the world.”
Kopp, president of the National Coalition of American Nuns, says the new group is forging a reformed style of religious life.
“That’s why the former canonical sisters want to be a part of this pioneering effort,” she said. “They see something going on here that makes them newly enthusiastic about Christian ministry.
“Even bishops see that probably the pattern in the 21st Century if sisterhoods survive, will be very much like the Sisters for Christian Community.”
With its members spread across the country, supporting themselves in various service tasks, they continue disciplines of “poverty, service and celibacy,” substituting “service” for the standard “obedience” in canonical orders.
Not Feeling Alienation
“They didn’t leave their former communities because they didn’t like religious life or because they were alienated from them, but with a great deal of love and affection for them,” Kopp said.
“They simply wanted more room for initiatives and innovation in their ministries in line with Vatican II,” she added, referring to the reforming Second Vatican Council of 1962-65.
“Their relationship with their former communities are excellent,” she said.
Kopp, 65, left a canonical order, the Sisters of the Holy Name of Jesus and Mary. On receiving her dispensation from the Vatican, she and a handful of other former canonical nuns launched the new community in 1970.
Now numbering about 600, it is growing at the rate of more than 30 a year, Kopp said, with some nuns holding dual membership in it and also in canonical orders.
Overall, the total U.S. nuns in canonical orders have dropped about 63,000 since 1966 to the present 118,000.
Some Face Expulsion
Twenty-four who signed a recent statement in the midst of the last presidential campaign questioning church condemnation of all abortions have been ordered by the Vatican to recant or be expelled from their orders.
The superiors of their orders have delayed taking such action against the 24, instead writing to the Vatican about it.
Sister Kopp, who as head of the 2,000-member National Coalition of American Nuns keeps in touch with the situation regarding the 24, said she thinks the ultimatum may “fade quietly into oblivion.”
Now that the Vatican realizes the strong reaction to it and that it could precipitate a crisis among nuns, she said she thinks it may be allowed “to die a quiet death.”
“There are tensions in Rome between those who uphold this updated need for freedoms and very conservative bishops who wish Vatican II had never happened.