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The Cecilia Meighan, RSM Institute of Law and Religious Life

Virtually Together: The 28th Cecilia Meighan, RSM Institute of Law and Religious Life

Our founder and first Director (until 2008) died on September 12, 2014 after many years of service as a teacher, administrator, and lawyer as a member of the Mid-Atlantic Community of the Sister of Mercy of the Americas. For the first 21 Institutes of Law and Religious Life, she served as inspiration, mentor, and friend to many faculty members and participants. We count on her continued presence, guidance, and inspiration as we continue this Institute named in her honor.

Theme of Year I (part of the three-year cycle):         
The Religious Institute: Governance Structures and Responsibilities in Canon and Civil Law

Interactive Virtual Sessions: August 29 - December 5, 2024
Virtual Program Schedule:
August 29, September 12 and 26, October 10 and 24, November 7, 21 and            December 5
Day: Thursdays
Time: 1:00 - 4:00 PM (Eastern Time)

The Institute offers professional development to elected and appointed leadership of Roman Catholic religious congregations. The program is also invaluable to those members to whom leadership has delegated responsibilities for the life and ministry of the members. Over the course of the interactive virtual Institute, attendees can seek input from faculty and also from the experience of their peers.

This program will enable you to:
·        Gain a new perspective on the role and responsibilities of leadership
·        Interact with those who share similar responsibilities and challenges
·        Discover alternative solutions to problems
·        Create a network of peers

Meet our Faculty:

Director of Institute

Deborah M. Cerullo SSND is an attorney and canonist whose primary focus is the legal issues of religious institutes.   From 2003 to 2016, she served as the principle attorney at the law office of Deborah M. Cerullo, SSND in Providence, RI and has served on the faculty of the Institute of Law and Religious Life on an ongoing basis since 2003.  Prior to 2003 she served on the law faculties of the University of Notre Dame and Boston College and as a legal services attorney in both secular and faith-based organizations.  In 2016 Deborah was elected to the provincial council of the Atlantic-Midwest Province of the School Sisters of Notre Dame and completed her term in 2021.  She has since returned to full time consulting work with religious institutes.

Sister Kelly Connors is a Sister of the Presentation of Mary and a member of the US Province. She completed her studies in Canon Law at St. Paul University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. With the specialization in Religious Law, Kelly has worked for diocese, taught at universities, and currently gives retreats on religious life and the vows, provides workshops and conferences for religious and their collaborators, and consults with individual religious and leadership teams, as well as collaborating with several Conferences for Major Superiors throughout the world.  Kelly served one term on her General Leadership Team (2017-2023) and has returned to full-time consulting.  In addition to her availability to assist religious congregations and conferences, she works part-time at the Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

Click Here to Register for the Institute of Law and Religious Life


Topic Date  Session    

1. Introduction and Welcome

8/29/24 One


2. General Principles of Canon Law; Governance Essentials 8/29/24 Two  
3. General Principles of Civil Law: The Legal Person of the Corporation 9/12/24 One  
4. Religious Organizations as Tax Exempt Organizations 9/12/24 Two  
5. Elections and the Election Process in Institutes 9/26/24 One  
6. Review of Corporate Documents and Roles and Responsibilities in Non-Profit Corporations 9/26/24 Two  
7. Protecting the Assets of the Institute 10/10/24 One  

8. Conducting the Affairs of the Institute in Council and in its Civil Corporation

10/10/24 Two  
9. Sponsorship: Canonical Responsibilities for the Institute's Works and Their Catholic Identity 10/24/24 One  
10. Sponsorship: Institute's Civil Responsibilities as a Sponsor 10/24/24 Two  
11. Adjusting Governance Structures When the Institute's Reality Changes for Institute and Sponsored Ministries 11/7/24 One  
12. Adjusting Governance Structures (Continued) 11/7/24 Two  
13. Record Retention and Management 11/21/24 One  
14. Help! We've Been Sued! We're in the Headlines! 11/21/24 Two  
15. Canonical Appeals/Recourse 12/5/24 One  
16. Closing Session 12/5/24 Two   


If you have any questions, please email or give us a call at 570-674-6161.

With much gratitude,
The Center for Adult and Continuing Education