Pope Francis has proclaimed a Year of Consecrated Life on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, which speaks of religious in its sixth chapter, and of the Decree Perfectae Caritatis on the renewal of religious life. The Year has begun on November 30, 2014, the First Sunday of Advent, and will conclude with the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple on February 2, 2016.
Catholics on Call is committed to supporting young adults as they explore their vocation in the Church as lay ecclesial ministers, religious sisters or brothers or priests. Taking into account that all vocations are equal before God, we would like to respond to Pope’s Francis’ invitation and celebrate the past, presence and future of the consecrated life with a heart full of gratitude for the many men and women who have served God and God’s people through their commitment to the different forms of consecrated life. We have opened a web page that offers resources and information about the Year of Consecrated Life and would like to share some reflections and witness statements from our alums.
We have invited our alums, those who have entered the consecrated life and those who are following other vocational paths, to reflect on the impact consecrated life has had in their lives, either through their own experience or through other people, friends and mentors.
“What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, whom you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in Love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.” (Pedro Arrupe, SJ)
I have been blessed to know and develop close friendships with many people in consecrated life. One common thread I have noticed in all of these individuals and communities is a deep sense of committed love guiding their lives. They have shown me the importance of compassion, community, and charism.
For undergrad, I attended Carlow University in Pittsburgh, which was founded by the Sisters of Mercy. Through events with the sisters, theology classes, and Mass at the chapel, I came to love the mercy charism of the sisters. For the sisters, mercy was not a feeling or an attitude; it was always an action, always a call to serve. It was at Carlow, under their influence, that I really rooted my love for helping others in my faith and knew that I was being called to a life of service in one way or another.
In grad school at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, I was surrounded by young people who were in formation with a variety of religious orders. Through our conversations I discovered that many young people entering religious orders were drawn to them by the communal life. In a society that is known to be extremely individualistic, many of us are craving community – not just getting to know and be in relationship with others, but intentionally sharing, communicating, becoming vulnerable, and praying with others. I found that I wanted to be more intentional in forming real community in my own life.
One of my classmates at school was a friar named Galen, who is now my husband. At the time, he was in formation with the Franciscans. Anyone could easily guess which order he was with as he exuded the Franciscan charism. But even outside of the religious order, he is no less Franciscan. He brings the values and attitude of St. Francis and the Friars Minor to everything he does, including our marriage. His charism has prompted me to reflect on my own charisms and gifts, and how I am called to share them in my marriage and my everyday life.
I am so grateful to my friends in consecrated life for their example of falling in love with something so much greater than themselves, and allowing that love to guide everything they do. Their friendships have enhanced my own vocation to marriage and the lay ecclesial ministry. With their influence in my life I have fallen in love, stayed in love, and have let that decide everything.