The Year of Consecrated Life proclaimed by Pope Francis in November has ignited a ground- swell of interest and support.
The global focus is threefold: the renewal of men and women in consecrated life that encompasses sisters, brothers and priests; thanksgiving among the faithful for their service; and an invitation to young Catholics to consider a religious vocation.
Locally, the Diocese of Phoenix has hosted many meetings, celebrations and dialogues for consecrated and laity alike.
“It’s going very well and has been a great year so far,” said Mercy Sister Anthony Mary Diago, the director of the Office of Consecrated Life for the diocese. “We are blessed to have so many different apostolates in the diocese. It’s really been an opportunity for us to share the Good News and how we contribute to the life of the Church in Phoenix.”
Sr. Anthony Mary had barely started her new job when the Vatican announced plans to focus the year on those dedicated men and women whose vows of poverty, chastity and obedience serve to illuminate heaven on earth.
Sr. Anthony Mary started using social networking tools such as a Twitter account and a blog in January to build relations with readers, and connect them more intimately with the works of the religious in the diocese.
On her blog, www.phxconsecratedlife.com, she shares her adventures at events like the Religious Night of Appreciation Evening in May, a visit with the Crosier Fathers and Brothers, a vocations presentation to 50 home-schooled children and a visit with the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará at St. Anthony Parish in Phoenix.
“I’ve had really good feedback and good responses,” Sr. Anthony Mary said about the blog. “I try to go to a different order every week or attend a function.”
In addition, Sr. Anthony Mary started a monthly FIAT Discernment Morning for women at the Diocesan Pastoral Center. The first meeting allowed 15 young women to learn more about consecrated life and sisters from five different religious communities that included the Missionaries of Charity, the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, the Daughters of Charity, the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma and the Parish Visitors.
In his Apostolic Letter to all consecrated on the occasion of the Year of Consecrated Life, Pope Francis wrote about three aims of the year: to look to the past with gratitude, to live the present with passion and embrace the future with hope.
“Together let us thank the Father, who called us to follow Jesus by fully embracing the Gospel and serving the Church, and poured into our hearts the Holy Spirit, the source of our joy and our witness to God’s love and mercy before the world,” Pope Francis stated.
Being set apart for God in service of Him and His Church is what it means to be consecrated.
At Most Holy Trinity Parish, the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT) priests and religious say a special consecration prayer together each day.
Sr. Mary Claire Strasser, SOLT, said she believes there is a longing in every heart to be ‘set apart’ for God and that “all people are called to be disciples, some just in a more radical way.”
“I think the Year of Consecrated Life should also be an invitation to get to know a religious on a personal level,” she said. “It is also an invitation to encourage holy vocations, an openness to religious life and mission work.”