Year of Consecrated Life: Q/A, address to women religious in Korea, ideas for celebrating

Year of Consecrated Life: Q/A, address to women religious in Korea, ideas for celebrating

What is the Year for Consecrated Life?

Year for Consecrated Life is a worldwide opportunity for the church to take note of consecrated life in the following ways.
     
•  For renewal for the men and women in consecrated life. Please pray for them as they reexamine and renew their commitment to vowed life.

•  For appreciation and thanksgiving for the witness and service of those in consecrated life.

•  For invitation to the next generation of Catholics to “Be courageous!” in the words of Pope Francis, and, “Wake up the world to a different way of doing things, of acting, of living!”

 

What resources are available?

The National Religious Vocation Conference with VISION Vocation Network has produced a logo (see it at the top of this page) and a hymn to be used in conjunction with the Year of Consecrated Life. Both are available for free at www.nrvc.net. (Go to the Resource tab on the home page and select “Year of Consecrated Life.”)

In addition a special edition of VISION vocation guide is available online (vocationnetwork.org) and in print. Hard copies can be ordered at www.vocationnetwork.org/orders or by calling (800) 942-2811. The U.S. bishops have also posted resources at usccb.org.

 

Has Pope Francis said anything about consecrated life?

Yes, he has addressed people in religious life many times, and as a member of the Jesuit religious order, he has been formed by religious life; he understands and supports it. Some of the pope’s statements about religious life can be found at www.vatican.va. Some of the pontiff's statements are also available at nrvc.net.

This past summer, Pope Francis visited Korea where he was enthusiastically received by the Catholic community, including men and women religious. Following are the Holy Father’s words to the religious with whom he met. His short talk echoes a theme he has emphasized: that one’s joy in Christ should shine for others to see.

 

Address to women religious in Korea

The words of the Psalm, “My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Ps. 73:26), invite us to think about our own lives. The Psalmist exudes joyful confidence in God. We all know that while joy is not expressed the same way at all times in life, especially at moments of great difficulty, “it always endures, even as a flicker of light born of our personal certainty that, when everything is said and done, we are infinitely loved” (Evangelii Gaudium, 6).

The firm conviction of being loved by God is at the center of your vocation: to be for others a tangible sign of the presence of God’s Kingdom, a foretaste of the eternal joys of heaven. Only if our witness is joyful will we attract men and women to Christ. And this joy is a gift which is nourished by a life of prayer, meditation on the word of God, and the celebration of the sacraments and life in community, which is very important. When these are lacking, weaknesses and difficulties will emerge to dampen the joy we knew so well at the beginning of our journey.

Sister Kim Keun-Ja, R.S.C.J. was among the hundreds of Korean women religious who attended a meeting with Pope Francis during his pastoral visit to Korea in August 2014. She told Tom Fox of National Catholic Reporter that the visit inspired her to reexamine her own commitment to simplicity and reaching out to the poor.  Photo: Tom Fox, Global Sisters Report.

For you, as men and women consecrated to God, this joy is rooted in the mystery of the Father’s mercy, revealed in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Whether the charism of your institute is directed more to contemplation or to the active life, you are challenged to become “experts” in divine mercy precisely through your life in community. From experience I know that community life is not always easy, but it is a providential training ground for the heart. It is unrealistic not to expect conflicts; misunderstandings will arise and they must be faced. Despite such difficulties, it is in community life that we are called to grow in mercy, forbearance and perfect charity.

The experience of God’s mercy, nourished by prayer and community, must shape all that you are, all that you do. Your chastity, poverty and obedience will be a joyful witness to God’s love in the measure that you stand firmly on the rock of his mercy. That is the rock. This is certainly the case with religious obedience. Mature and generous obedience requires that you cling in prayer to Christ who, taking the form of a servant, learned obedience through what he suffered (Perfectae Caritatis, 14). There are no shortcuts: God desires our hearts completely and this means we have to “let go” and “go out” of ourselves more and more.

A lively experience of the Lord’s steadfast mercy also sustains the desire to achieve that perfection of charity which is born of purity of heart. Chastity expresses your single-minded dedication to the love of God who is “the strength of our hearts.” We all know what a personal and demanding commitment this entails. Temptations in this area call for humble trust in God, vigilance, perseverance and opening our heart to that wise brother or sister whom the Lord puts on our path.

Through the evangelical counsel of poverty you are able to recognize God’s mercy not only as a source of strength, but also as a treasure. It seems contradictory, but being poor means finding a treasure. Even when we are weary, we can offer him our hearts burdened by sin and weakness; at those times when we feel most helpless, we can reach out to Christ, “who made himself poor in order that we might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9).

This fundamental need of ours to be forgiven and healed is itself a form of poverty which we must never lose sight of, no matter how many advances we make in virtue. It should also find concrete expression in your lifestyle, both as individuals and as communities. I think in particular of the need to avoid all those things which can distract you and cause bewilderment and scandal to others.

In the consecrated life, poverty is both a “wall” and a “mother.” It is a “wall” because it protects the consecrated life, a “mother” because it helps it to grow and guides it along the right path. The hypocrisy of those consecrated men and women who profess vows of poverty, yet live like the rich, wounds the souls of the faithful and harms the Church. Think, too, of how dangerous a temptation it is to adopt a purely functional, worldly mentality which leads to placing our hope in human means alone and destroys the witness of poverty which our Lord Jesus Christ lived and taught us. Here I wish to thank your presidents, because both of them have rightly mentioned the threat that globalization and consumerism pose to religious poverty. Thank you.

Dear brothers and sisters, with great humility, do all that you can to show that the consecrated life is a precious gift to the Church and to the world. Do not keep it to yourselves; share it, bringing Christ to every corner of this beloved country. Let your joy continue to find expression in your efforts to attract and nurture vocations, and recognize that all of you have some part in forming the consecrated men and women of tomorrow. Whether you are given more to contemplation or to the apostolic life, be zealous in your love of the Church in Korea and your desire to contribute, through your own specific charism, to its mission of proclaiming the Gospel and building up God’s people in unity, holiness and love.

I commend all of you to the loving care of Mary, Mother of the Church, and in a particular way I offer a heartfelt greeting to the aged and infirm members of your communities. And I cordially give you my blessing: May Almighty God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, bless you all.

 

What are religious communities doing for Year of Consecrated life?

HORIZON asked this question of members of the National Religious Vocation Conference, and the responses we received show the creativity and variety at the heart of this way of life. Here is a snapshot of the kinds of things that will be happening around the United States.

Our community and several others are planning a diocesan wide conference called: “Wake up the World!  The Joy of Consecrated Life.” We will have an evening just for those in consecrated life, a day for junior high and high school students, and a day for everyone else.  Father  Stan Fortuna and others will be our speakers and entertainers.  We are very excited about it!

--Sister Sarah Roy, O.S.F., West Peoria, IL


Communities in NRVC’s Region 8 (Minnesota and the Dakotas) are making four-minute videos about themselves to post on YouTube. These will be released systematically, one every few weeks, beginning in October 2014. Each will showcase an aspect of community life. My community is doing one on our charism; others will create videos about prayer, community life, etc.

As a region we are also writing to each bishop, pastor, and church leader to express our love for religious life and the church. We want to communicate our desire to work with them to strengthen the faith, promote vocations, and develop a broader vocation culture.

--Sister Adrienne Kaufmann, O.S.B., Watertown, SD


We will  join students at Rosemont College, which we sponsor, on November 21 in their pre-Thanksgiving service project. This will be followed by a prayer together to open the Year of Consecrated Life.

Our vocation director will make weekly posts on our Facebook page according to the liturgical seasons and the five themes presented in the “Moving Forward in Hope” workshops. She’ll draw from Scripture, The Joy of the Gospel, and writings of our foundress, Cornelia Connelly; she has also asked some of our sisters to write substantive short reflections on the five themes. These will be posted both on our website and  on our Facebook page.

We are looking for every way to link our celebration with other province events, such as our chapter preparation, our jubilee celebration, and our efforts to reduce global warming. We’ll also participate in diocesan events  in the various locations where we have sisters

--Sister Mary Ann Buckley, S.H.C.J., Society of the Holy Child Jesus, Rosemont, PA


We are collaborating to spark a renewal of spirit among our sisters as well as among those with whom we minister. So we are distributing care packages to each of our convents. Each package will contain a personal letter written by some sisters and young women from the University of Notre Dame (where I minister). These are meant to encourage a renewed fidelity and gratitude for vocation. There will be some table tents for discussion at meals so as to spark conversation in order to learn more about each Sister’s story; we’ll have monthly prayer services, favorite recreations and games, etc. Our hope is that we come to grow in our love for God and others.

--Sister Mary Jane Hahner C.S.F.N., South Bend, IN


The Toronto Area Vocation Directors Association is planning a Taizé prayer service, adoration, and social the evening of November 21. The Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Canada is also planning events starting with an opening prayer service in November or December.

--Sister Rosemary Fry, C.S.J., Toronto, Ontario


We’ll read and discuss “The Joy of the Gospel” by Pope Francis. We’ll also pray for an increase of vocations, attend workshops or conferences provided by the NRVC, and attend the annual consecrated day provided by the Archdiocese of Chicago. If the opportunity arises, we will invite young people to pray with us.

--Sister Bridget Zanin, M.S.C., Des Plaines, IL


The Dominican Sisters of Peace annually choose a topic for common study and provide a packet of study materials for our sisters and associates. During this special year, our primary study focus will be consecrated life. The study packet we are creating will contain relevant articles, books, movies, and study questions.  We hope these materials will bring us to a deeper understanding of our unique Dominican vocation in the church and give us a better grasp of who we are called to be for God’s people in this 21st century.

We hope also to show joy and kindness to the people we meet every day and to take every opportunity to talk about what our vocation means to us—speaking to young people, parents, grandparents, relatives, friends, and co-workers.

We want to take part in anything that the diocese and parishes do to celebrate the Year of Consecrated Life. When we meet a woman whom we think may have a vocation, we’ll invite her to pray with us and perhaps have a meal with our sisters and connect her to one of our vocation ministers. Finally, we’ll be praying that God sends laborers into the vineyard!

--Sister Pat Twohill, O.P., New Haven, CT


My hope for the Year of Consecrated Life is to bring many religious and other consecrated men and women together for a pilgrimage to Walsingham—England’s National Shrine to Our Lady. I don’t know if this hope will be realized—I am only a junior sister in a small community—but I would love for it to happen! I am sure that if we came together in prayer to seek Our Lady’s blessing, we would see a wonderful renewal of consecrated life in England and beyond.

--Sister Theresa Weight, Walsingham, England


Our community’s plan for the Year of Consecrated life includes distributing a copy of “Rejoice” to each member for prayerful reading, reflection, and discussion during our monthly community sharing. We will also be posting vocation stories of our sisters in the archdiocesan newsletter and in our own vocation newsletter.

--Sister Sandy Nguyen, F.M.S.R., New Orleans, LA


One of our thoughts regarding the Year of Consecrated Life is to create a postcard-sized handout.  One side will describe who the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers are and what is sought in a candidate to the life of a Christian Brother. The other side will have a brief description of our formation program.”

We intend to distribute this material to all our schools and ministry sites in the U.S. and Canada. Our recent general chapter calls all of the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers to “welcome as companions all inspired by the charism of Blessed Edmund Rice,” and “to seek and welcome new members to the vowed life as Christian Brothers.”

--Brother James McDonald, C.F.C.


We plan to have special liturgies with our Boards and Oblates during the year. As a community we will have special DVDs and resources for discussion on our appreciation of consecrated life. We hope to participate in all the diocesan events to celebrate consecrated life. I am also hosting and  working with three other communities in town on a life choices event once a month for young adults called Samuel Evenings.

--Sister Marietta Schindler,  O.S.B. Mount Angel, OR


In Canada the National Association of Vocation and Formation Directors (NAVFD) will sponsor webinars on religious life themes. We’ll be setting up a Facebook page for congregations to post their initiatives for the year. Also, as a follow-up to the year, NAVFD will offer a retreat for priests and religious at three locations across Canada  based on the objectives for the year, which are to make a grateful remembrance of the recent past, to live the present with passion, and to embrace the future with hope. Our two retreat themes will be to renew the vision of religious life today, and our call to celebrate life.

--Sister Nancy Sullivan, C.S.J. of National Association of Vocation and Formation Directors (Canada), Toronto, Ontario


In anticipation of  the Year of Consecrated Life, a local historical site, Clayton House, hosted an event honoring the Benedictine Sisters for 135 years of ministry in the Arkansas and Fort Smith region. It was an hour-long program featuring the history and talents of the sisters.

--Sister Kimberly Rose Prohaska, O.S.B. Fort Smith, AR


We are considering a Street Fair for Religious Life as a project in a Fairchester, New York parish where some of our sisters are involved. This would include religious life themed games of chance with prizes of a religious nature; perhaps some R.S.C.J. memorabilia: T-shirts, etc. Our local school alumni and parishioners would be invited. We'd have food, religious life material, etc.

--Sister Mary Pat White, R.S.C.J.



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