[dropcap type=”4″]B[/dropcap]oth her parents were refugees from Cuba. They brought to America not gold or silver, but the far richer gift of faith in Jesus Christ. This far richer gift they handed on to their daughter. In turn, the daughter, making her own this far richer gift, answered the call of Jesus to leave all things and follow Him. She made a lifelong consecration to Christ through the profession of vows of poverty, chastity and obedience in the Institute of the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma.
New diocesan director of Consecrated Life
As a Sister of Mercy, Sr. Anthony Mary Diago has served Christ and His Church in Boston and then, most recently, in Sydney, Australia. Now she has come to Phoenix to serve as director of our diocesan Office of Consecrated Life.
Sr. Anthony Mary begins this new work in Arizona at a promising time, when Pope Francis has called for a “Year of Consecrated Life” to begin later this month, on the First Sunday of Advent. It will provide an extended time to give thanks to God for Sisters and Brothers, monks and hermits, and members of other Consecrated Institutes who have played and who continue to play pivotal roles in the life and mission of the Church. It will also be a time to look for fresh ways to promote vocations to consecrated life among our youth.[quote_box_right]
What is the Year of Consecrated Life?
Pope Francis declared that a Year of Consecrated Life be celebrated throughout the world. The Diocese of Phoenix will mark this occassion with two Masses on Nov. 23. It will close on the World Day of Consecrated Life, Feb. 2, 2016.
Where can I learn more about consecrated life?
Through turbulent waters to a new springtime
The past half-century, since the end of the Second Vatican Council, has seen great turmoil throughout the Church, with special intensity in religious life. Only six years after Vatican II’s conclusion, Blessed Pope Paul VI spoke of “the anxiety, uncertainty and instability” of some religious. He said that it stemmed from “the boldness of certain arbitrary transformations, an exaggerated distrust of the past — even when it witnesses to the wisdom and vigor of ecclesial traditions — and a mentality excessively preoccupied with hastily conforming to the profound changes which disturb our times” (Evangelica Testificatio, #2).
More recently, Pope Francis, who himself lived as a Jesuit priest throughout these turbulent decades, has discerned that now is a good time to take stock of all that has happened in the past half century, to review both the lights and shadows of the renewal of religious life called for by Vatican II, to praise God for the Gospel witness of a multitude of Religious and other consecrated persons, and to commit ourselves anew to promoting this invaluable way of life in the Church.
Religious men and women reflect the joy of a life dedicated to Christ as witnesses to His love which is poor, chaste and obedient.
Unity in diversity
Every member of the Church is called to be a missionary disciple, says Pope Francis; we are all called to bring the good news of Christ to others. We do this in different ways, using the unique gifts and diverse charisms bestowed by the Holy Spirit.
Sisters and Brothers, monks and nuns, consecrated laity and priests make a vital contribution to the evangelizing mission of the Church, both as individuals and communities. Their rich diversity is an attractive feature of the Church; but it is fruitful only to the degree that its source and center is found in the Lord Jesus.
It can be quite difficult to achieve this balance; as Pope Francis writes (Evangelii Gaudium, 131), “Diversity must always be reconciled by the help of the Holy Spirit; He alone can raise up diversity, plurality and multiplicity while at the same time bringing about unity. When we, for our part, aspire to diversity, we become self-enclosed, exclusive and divisive; similarly, whenever we attempt to create unity on the basis of our human calculations, we end up imposing a monolithic uniformity. This is not helpful for the Church’s mission.”
Members of consecrated life receive special charisms, not so much for their own good as for the good of others, to be integrated into the whole Body of Christ, the Church, and to be channeled into an evangelizing impulse at the service of the Lord. I pray that this may be one of the fruits of the Year of Consecrated Life.
Please join me in welcoming Sr. Anthony Mary to the Diocese of Phoenix, asking the Lord to bless her with wisdom, joy and peace as she serves Him in our midst. Let us also pray for a new springtime in the Church in Arizona, that many of our young people will hear and embrace God’s call to follow Christ more closely in the consecrated life.
Join Us for Holy Mass
I invite you to join me and Bishop Eduardo Nevares at either one of two Masses that will inaugurate the Year of Consecrated Life on Nov. 23:
- 8 a.m. Mass in Spanish with Bishop Nevares at St. Mary Parish, 230 W. Galveston St., Chandler (Televised on KPHE-TV 44 / Cox 405 / Prism 044)
- 9 a.m. Mass in English with me at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral, 6351 N. 27th Ave., Phoenix (Televised on AZ-TV7 / Cable 13)