In 1997, Pope John Paul II instituted a day of prayer for women and men in consecrated life. This celebration is attached to the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord on February 2nd. This Feast is also known as Candlemas Day; the day, on which candles are blessed, symbolizing Christ who is the light of the world. It is in preparation of this celebration that we are here today.
At our Baptism we are all called, set apart, given a vocation for some definite service. To be baptised is to accept Christ’s call to follow him. This is the way of holiness; it involves paying attention to the needs of others and to Christ, and living as an active member of the Body of Christ, the Church. Another dimension of Christian vocation is the work that people do, we talk about having a vocation to a particular job, be that in education, health care, social services, in the media … in fact any work can be vocational if it is carried out as an expression of the person’s quest for holiness.
Underlying the rich variety of religious orders in the Church there is one simple reality: God calls men and women to live out their Christian vocation without owning personal property and without marrying, under obedience to a community. On the basis of that shared vocation to live a life of poverty, chastity and obedience, there are amazingly diverse ways of living out what the Church calls the consecrated life.
For some this religious Life can be in monasteries living a life of prayer and hidden work, like the Carmelites or the Poor Clares.
For others it is living Religious Life at the heart of the world responding to the needs of the Church and the world today, dedicated to teaching the poor, working in parishes, others serving the sick, or working with those on the margins of society and missionary congregations focused on the needs of developing countries.
As Jesus was the witness to his Father’s great love of humankind so are we religious called to show through our lives and work how much God loves each one of us. And as in Jesus ‘life there are three important dimensions:
- A deep sense of prayer and being connected with the Father was a characteristic feature of Jesus and is an essential aspect of consecrated life. In order to experience God’s love in our lives and so to be able to witness to this love, we take time for prayer each day, in our communities and personally.
- The passion for doing God’s will in ministry – through the sacraments, education, social service, nursing, and the contemplative experience of the monastic life – is an essential aspect of the consecrated life.
- Community life is also a strong aspect of our chosen vocation. As Jesus shared his life and mission with his disciples, we share, in community, all of who we are and what we have with Sisters, including our joys and sorrows, our frustrations and our fears and most of all we support one another. Sounds ideal… but just as the disciples let Jesus down and fought over who was the greatest and the least we often find ourselves having to forgive and be forgiven.
The parish is blessed with the presence of three religious communities – St Gildas – the Sisters of Christian Instruction, the Sisters of Providence and the Sisters of Sion. Each order has its own charism which leads the sisters to involve themselves in various aspects of christian life both within and outside the parish.