Catholics in the U.S. will mark the 2015 Year of Consecrated Life with special days to highlight prayer, service and community.
The observances were announced Oct. 1 at a media conference in Washington, D.C., led by Bishop Michael Burbidge of Raleigh, N.C. Bishop Burbidge heads the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations.
The U.S events are the national response to the Vatican-initiated yearlong celebration, set to begin the first weekend of Advent 2014, Nov. 29-30, and to conclude on Feb. 6, 2016, the World Day of Consecrated Life.
Representatives of women’s and men’s religious orders joined Bishop Burbidge at the media conference. They included Father James Greenfield, an Oblate of St. Francis De Sales; Sister Marcia Allen, a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet, president-elect of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious; and Sister Marie Bernadette Thompson, a Nashville Dominican and Council Coordinator of the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious.
Specific events in the planning include:
- Feb. 8, 2015, open houses sponsored by religious orders to present background on the various religious communities in the U.S., receptions and family activities to acquaint contemporary society with religious life today.
- Summer 2015, days of mission and service with religious men and women to invite people to join them in their apostolates or special service projects, such as assisting the elderly, ministering to the poor and homeless and other efforts to help those in need.
- Sept. 13, 2015, day of prayer with religious. Events may include celebrations of Vespers or Evening Prayer, recitation of the rosary or holy hours of prayer in convents, monasteries, religious houses, parishes and churches.
The Year of Consecrated Life encompasses the observance of the 50th anniversary of“Perfectae Caritatis,” the Second Vatican Council Decree on the on the Adaptation and Renewal of Religious Life and “Lumen Gentium,” Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church.
Cardinal João Braz De Aviz, head of the Vatican Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies for Apostolic Life, said the Year of Consecrated Life is to “make a grateful remembrance of the recent past” while embracing “the future of hope.”
Mary Ann Walsh, R.S.M., is U.S. Church correspondent for America.