Let us thank, support those living a consecrated life

| December 4, 2014

NienstedtBlI feel very blessed to have been taught by the Adrian Dominican Sisters in the elementary and high schools of my home parish. Those were very formative years, and I had the wonderful, inspirational examples of virtue that those religious women embodied. I have often remarked that the Sisters taught me “how to think and how to think with the Church.” Much of my vocation as a priest was also due to the regular encouragement the Sisters gave me. They were marvelous teachers, and their contribution to the Church cannot be overstated.

Here in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, more than 70 religious congregations currently serve in a variety of apostolates. Thousands of men and women live their consecrated lives as priests, brothers, nuns, sisters, hermits and consecrated virgins. They help the poor, the sick and the orphaned. They teach in our grade schools, high schools, universities and seminaries. They provide comfort to those in hospitals and counsel those in prison. They work to provide justice for immigrants, housing for the homeless and compassion and the love of Christ to the oppressed. And they pray for all of us. I want to publicly thank those who serve this local Church through their consecrated lives. We, in the Archdiocese, would be at a loss without them.

To give greater attention to and appreciation of these religious men and women, Pope Francis has called for a Year of Consecrated Life, which began last Sunday on Nov. 30, 2014, and will end next year on Feb. 2, 2016. The year also marks the 50th anniversary of Perfectae Caritatis, the Second Vatican Council’s “Decree on the Appropriate Renewal of Religious Life.” The purpose of this year, as stated by the Vatican, is to “make a grateful remembrance of the recent past” while embracing “the future with hope.” I encourage you to read the Holy Father’s letter inaugurating this Year of Consecrated Life. Our Archdiocesan offices, departments and other groups will be sponsoring events throughout the year on the local level. Please follow The Catholic Spirit (Year of Consecrated Life special section online) and Archspm.org for information about upcoming opportunities to participate in this extraordinary year.

Next weekend, our parishes will be conducting our annual collection to support the Retirement Fund for Religious. This appeal benefits some 35,000 senior Catholic sisters, brothers and religious order priests — men and women who have consecrated their lives to serving God and the Church.

Pope Francis tells us, “Every consecrated person is a gift for the People of God on its journey.” Their support of our journeys often required great sacrifices on their part. Most senior religious worked for small stipends, leaving a substantial gap in retirement savings. As a result, hundreds of religious communities now struggle to provide adequate care for aging members.

The Retirement Fund for Religious offers us an opportunity to support elderly religious in this phase of their own journey. While many continue in some form of ministry, others are frail and in need of assistance. Your gift provides vital funding for medications, nursing care and more. It also helps religious congregations implement long-term retirement strategies that ensure both quality eldercare for some and continued service by others to the People of God. The money you give will go to the national office, and then it will be sent to local communities that apply for those funds.

I recognize this is but one of many worthy causes in need of your support. I ask simply that you give what you can. In thanksgiving for the faithful service of senior religious, please join me in supporting the Retirement Fund for Religious as a way of praising God for the gifts He has given the Church through their consecrated lives.

Perhaps you will see some of those who are living the consecrated life during the Advent and Christmas seasons. I am filled with hope that they will continue to inspire you to grow in a deeper love for Jesus Christ. Please thank them for what they do for this local Church, as I thank them for all that they have done for me.

May God bless you!

Agradezcamos y apoyemos a aquellos que viven una vida consagrada

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Category: Only Jesus

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