February 24, 2015
Year of the consecrated life

Tue, Feb 24, 2015

Pope Francis has asked consecrated persons to ‘wake up the world’. ‘This awakening,’ he said, ‘is the priority that is needed in the Church today.’ Consecrated persons are those who have been called by God and whose response is giving their lives to the ministry of the Church.

On Tuesday, February 2, 2015 members of the Catholic Diocese of Bridgetown held vespers by candlelight in the chapel of the Ursuline Convent, Collymore Rock. Bishop Jason Gordon presented a pastoral letter. He mentioned that the Universal Church was celebrating the lives of consecrated persons;{{more}} he said “A unique and ancient form of discipleship and, inspired by the words of Pope Francis, urges men and women to wake the world with dawning joy.”

The Pope has proclaimed that the Year of the Consecrated Life (YCL) will run from Advent Sunday, November 30, 2014 to February 2, 2016, Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. Tuesday, February 2, 2016 will be designated as World Day of Consecrated Life (WDCL). He has called on the church to recognize and express gratitude for those men and women who are publicly known as consecrated persons.

Catholics often use the term ‘religious’ to describe persons who have taken the three vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. It is perhaps, more correct to use the term ‘consecrated life’.

This way of living includes all those who embrace the three vows and dedicate themselves to the Lord by making a commitment of service to the church.

The Consecrated Life includes monks and nuns who live in enclosed communities, religious brothers and sisters in active communities (such as the Living Water Community) and also many others who live alone or who live and work in the world, who have taken the three vows, poverty, chastity and obedience. The church expects that consecrated men and women would be witnesses of communion, share the joy of the Gospel, and go into the world to proclaim the Good News.

The ‘Year of The Consecrated Life’ challenges consecrated persons to examine the fidelity to the mission entrusted to them, take stock of the work they are doing in the various ministries of the church and share in the joys and sorrows of people whom they serve, thus truly showing that they understand their needs and can help respond. Consecrated persons should use all their talents for the service of the Church and work for the coming of Christ’s Kingdom.

The church is blessed to have consecrated persons. A consecrated life is a gift to the Church, from the Church and of the Church.

In the Apostolic Letter from Pope Francis to consecrated persons he says “So, be men and women of communion! Have the courage to be present in the midst of conflict and tension, as a credible sign of the presence of the Spirit who inspires in human hearts a passion for all to be one (cf. Jn 17:21). Live the mysticism of encounter, which entails “the ability to hear, to listen to other people; the ability to seek together ways and means”. Live in the light of the loving relationship of the three divine Persons (cf. 1 Jn 4:8), the model for all interpersonal relationships.”

The Pope also asked consecrated persons to (1) look to the past with gratitude, (2) live the present with passion and (3) embrace the future with hope. The Pope encouraged consecrated persons to not have fear of the future. “We all know the difficulties which the various forms of consecrated life are currently experiencing: decreasing vocations and aging members, particularly in the Western world; economic problems stemming from the global financial crisis; issues of internationalization and globalization; the threats posed by relativism and a sense of isolation and social irrelevance… But it is precisely amid these uncertainties, which we share with so many of our contemporaries, that we are called to practice the virtue of hope, the fruit of our faith in the Lord of history, who continues to tell us: ‘Be not afraid… for I am with you’ (Jer 1:8).”

During the year 2015, the dioceses of Bridgetown and Kingstown will hold activities aimed at strengthening the commitment of men and women in Consecrated Life.

Bishop Jason Gordon had this to say: “ I ask all of you to pray this year especially for our communities of consecrated men and women whose charisma and witness have been a gift to so many in the dioceses of Bridgetown and Kingstown. May God give courage and guidance to those called to the priesthood and the diaconate, to religious life and lay consecrated life, so that they may respond generously and serve devotedly.” He acknowledged a need in diocese for even more consecrated persons and asks the members of the church in Barbados and St Vincent to “Pray for those who will join the Consecrated Life to keep the vital source of life ‘alive’ in the diocese.” (submitted by the Roman Catholic Diocese of St Vincent and the Grenadines).