Maria Clara Kreis, CDP, Ph.D., L.P.

Visiting Scholar for Thriving in Ministry

Member of the international Congregation of the Sisters of Divine Providence, Pittsburgh, PA.

Sister Maria Clara is a licensed psychologist in Pennsylvania and holds a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI.  Born and raised in Europe, Sr. Clara received her initial degree in Early Childhood Education from Germany which offered her opportunities to work in varied educational settings and provide supervision to students in training. Her interest in the field of psychology arose during her ministry in a youth residential program, where many of the youth did experience varied forms of trauma due to child neglect, abuse, and/or war related experiences (e.g., wars in former Yugoslavia, Eretria and Ethiopia in Africa). Sister Clara completed her psychology internship and postdoctoral years in two counseling centers (Virginia Commonwealth University & University of Pittsburgh). She is a longstanding member with the American Psychological Association and with the Pennsylvania Psychological Association.


Her previous ministerial experiences include an adjunct position at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA and the position of the Assistant Director & Outreach Coordinator of the University Counseling and Wellbeing Center at Duquesne University (DU). During this time period, Sr. Clara has also presented on intercultural encounters in community and the workplace to the staff at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and annually since 2016 to the new Pre-Candidates of women/men religious congregations from the Mid-West area. It was in in Cameroon, Africa, where she has offered ‘Well-Being Programs’ to women religious (years 2014 & 2015).


Sr. Clara is the author of the international Life Satisfaction Scale for Apostolic Women Religious (LSSAWR). In January of 2016, she accepted (with the support of DU) a generous grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. As the Grant Project Director and Lead Researcher at DU, and with the assistance of the LSSAWR project team, Sr. Clara was able to translate the LSSAWR into Spanish and German, and complete three LSSAWR Manual language versions ( Together with the LSSAWR project team, Sr. Clara was also able to extend the International LSSAWR Project across generation cohorts of apostolic women religious world-wide.


Through the International LSSAWR Project that Sr. Clara has worked internationally with leadership teams of women religious congregations, and presented and facilitated the results of the LSSAWR Congregational Reports to the leadership teams and/or membership of participating congregations. Sr. Clara has also been invited to attend the LCWR (2016-2019) as an exhibitor of the International LSSAWR Project, and as a presenter for a UISG program in Rome, Italy (2019 & 2020).  As an involved alumni of the national Leadership Collaborative program, Sr. Clara has been actively involved with program planning committee for a future Bi-Annual meeting. Finally, in her community, Sr. Clara has been an active member on Boards, Annual Province Assembly and Province Strategic Planning Committees, and currently is a member of the international pre-Chapter Planning Committee and the chair of the international Governance Commission on the congregational level.


Summary of Proposed Research:

During her time at CTU, Sr. Clara hopes to share insights as related to thriving in ministry by examining patterns and trends within a large data set that was collected as a part of the ‘International LSSAWR Project.’ The Life Satisfaction Scale for Apostolic Women Religious (LSSAWR) was originally designed as a part of her dissertation at Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI. The fifty items of the LSSAWR make up an instrument which can assess the satisfaction levels (overall wellbeing) of women religious across generation cohorts, cultures, and congregations world-wide. Through a substantial grant, received from the Hilton Foundation and through the support of Duquesne University, the LSSAWR team was able to collect more than 2000 datasets from women religious globally. In fact, the LSSAWR team achieved their grant objectives to extend the LSSAWR (including its Manual) to younger, and to Spanish and German speaking women religious world-wide. It is now our goal at CTU’s Thriving in Ministry department to explore emerging trends within this international data base that might provide some insights into Sisters’ satisfaction with their ministry experiences and its relationship to their overall total score on the LSSAWR. Furthermore, it is hoped that this relationship can also be explored across cultures (language use) and generation cohorts of women religious. The primary question guiding this research is as follows: How do variables that are tapping the experiences of ministry relate to the overall-wellbeing of Roman Catholic Apostolic Women Religious. CTU has expressed an interest to “prepare effective leaders for the church, including women religious.” Thus, the grant for this research proposal, provides an opportunity for CTU to explore and possibly “identify and overcome obstacles and stress points that keep those ministering in the Church from thriving in their work.”


Learn More


Life satisfaction survey is producing welcome results for sisters,” by Maria Clara Kreis, November 5, 2019, Global Sisters Report.


Invitation to incredible visitation,” by Maria Clara Kreis, Mar. 27, 2018, Global Sisters Report.


Q & A with Sr. Maria Clara Kreis, studying why sisters stay in religious life,” by Soli Salgado, Jun. 27, 2017, Global Sisters Report.

Kreis, M. C., Crammond, J., & Reynolds, C. (May 28, 2019). Life Satisfaction Scale for Apostolic Women Religious (LSSAWR). Examiner’s Manual (German translation; Copyright © in 2019).


Kreis, M. C., Crammond, J., & Reynolds, C. (January 4, 2019). Life Satisfaction Scale for Apostolic Women Religious (LSSAWR). Examiner’s Manual (Spanish translation; Copyright © in 2019).


Kreis, M. C., Crammond, J., & Reynolds, C. (December 6, 2018). Life Satisfaction Scale for Apostolic Women Religious (LSSAWR). Examiner’s Manual (English; Copyright © in 2019).