Tuesday, December 16, 2014

What the Visitation Report Means for Vocations

What the Visitation Report Means for Vocations

What the Visitation Report Means for Vocations

Paul Bednarczyk | Dec 16 2014 - 3:41pm | 0 comments
Nuns listen during Vatican press conference for release of final report of Vatican-ordered investigation of U.S. communities of women religious.
The recently released Apostolic Visitation Final Report acknowledges the challenges of contemporary vocation promotion for women religious. This was also confirmed in the now landmark 2009 “Study on Recent Vocations to Religious Life,” commissioned by the National Religious Vocation Conference (NRVC) in collaboration with the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA). The challenges of an aging, diminishing population, coupled with fewer entrants, present unique opportunities to religious congregations in their desire to attract a newer membership, who tend to be more educated, a bit older and more culturally diverse. What sometimes is forgotten is that although they are fewer in number, by the grace of God, women continue to respond to the call to religious life in the Catholic Church. In fact, it is estimated that there are 1,200 women currently in religious formation in the United States with several thousand more seriously discerning a religious vocation each year.
The findings in the Final Report are also similar to what NRVC learned in its “Women Religious Moving Forward in Hope” program, a series of four gatherings of vocation directors and major superiors from the two leadership conferences (LCWR and CMSWR). The goal of this program was to have sisters from diverse traditions, charisms and spiritualties, explore individual and common vocation efforts in response to the 2009 vocation study. Through a facilitated process of respectful dialogue, the sisters expressed a desire to define clearly their identity as women religious as different from the laity and those in other forms of consecrated life. They recognized the need for reconciliation among sisters themselves, were grateful to dialogue with women from both conferences and desired to work together for their common future. They saw the need for a revitalization of their communities and desired to work with parishes, dioceses and church leaders and minsters to expose youth and young adults to this unique form of discipleship in the church.
Thus, the Visitation report affirms in many ways what many women religious already know and what they have worked to address (admittedly, some more proactively than others).
What is truly hopeful is the Holy See’s commitment to “engage in respectful and fruitful dialogue with” women religious so as “to transform uncertainty and hesitancy into collaborative trust.” Religious sisters are an essential and formidable force in the life of the church. They have managed hospitals, schools and universities and have forged innovative, effective ministries to meet the needs of the poor with little money, but with great vision and determination. I applaud the Congregation’s acknowledgement of the structural, cultural, and financial challenges women’s religious institutes face in attracting and retaining new members. I am especially heartened by the Congregation’s very clearly stated commitment to work with Pope Francis to find expression for “feminine genius” and a role for women in “decision making in the different areas of Church life.”
During this Year of Consecrated Life, Pope Francis invites all religious to look to our future with hope. If this final report furthers the realization of honest dialogue and greater collaboration among religious and church authorities, then the future of religious life will be stronger. This will benefit not only religious institutes, but the church and the People of God as well who have always relied on the faithful service and inspiring lives and witness of our sisters. What could more hopeful than that?
Paul Bednarczyk, C.S.C., is executive director of the National Religious Vocation Conference.

    December 16- Daily Prayer

    From the Plough
    Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt
    The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed. Isaiah 50:4, NIV
    Lord our God, we thank you for giving us the task of serving you in the name of your servant, Jesus Christ, for letting each of us have a part in carrying out your will. Keep us true to this service. We want to be faithful, always listening to you, for you open our ears and help us know your will and respond to it. Be with us in these days. Strengthen your love and compassion in all hearts. May the life of Jesus Christ gain greater and greater power in all people on earth. Amen.

    Saturday, December 13, 2014

    Third Sunday of Advent - Rejoice- December 14

    (A biblical reflection on THE THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT [Year B], 14 December 2014)
    Gospel Reading: John 1:6-8,19-28
    First Reading: Isaiah 61:1-2,10-11; Psalms: Luke 1:46-50,53-54; Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:15-24
    john-baptist-lds-art-parson-39541-printThe Scripture Text
    There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light.
    And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed, he did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you a prophet?” And he answered, “No.” They said to him then, “Who are you?” Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” He said, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”
    Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, “Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water; but among you stands One whom you do not know, even He who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” This took place in Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing. (John 1:6-8,19-28 RSV)
    How wonderful it is that from the very beginning, God has been intimately involved in human history, constantly at work to fulfil His promises to us! From generation to generation, He has raised up servants to speak His word and form His people. These women and men, each in her or his own way, reflected something of the promised Messiah, the one through whom God would abundantly pour out His Spirit. This promised one would come to bring freedom to prisoners, good news to the poor, and consolation to the brokenhearted (Isaiah 61:1-2). How God’s people must have waited and longed for the fulfillment of these words!
    KASIHILAH TUHAN ALLAHMU DST.We know that the fulfilment of all our hopes is found in the person of Jesus Christ, “the true light that enlightens everyone” (John 1:9). In Jesus’ birth, all the grace of God came to earth. In His death, He destroyed the power of sin which held us in bondage. In His ascension, He poured out the Holy Spirit on all who would believe. Now, through Jesus, everything God intended for us is within our reach. Our consciences can be cleansed; fear can be lifted; memories can be healed; bitterness and anger can be dissolved.
    As much as we have experienced the power of Jesus’ cross to transform us, there is much more that God wants to do in us, and so He asks us to come to Him each day. When we turn to Jesus, we discover that He is always ready to draw us closer to Himself and bring us into the life of the Trinity. We all have a longing in our hearts for the complete fulfillment of God’s healing and restoration, and this longing – which God placed in us – is but a reflection of our Father’s desire to shower His love upon us.
    As we approach the sacrament of reconciliation this Advent, let us ask the Holy Spirit to continue God’s work in our hearts. When we confess our sins, let us be confident that God will forgive us, heal us, and restore us. He began this work when we were baptized into Jesus’ death and resurrection. He now continues to work as we turn our hearts to Him and allow Him to cleanse and purify us more deeply.
    May the God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly … He who calls you is faithful, and He will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-34).
    Prayer: Heavenly Father, our good Lord God, thank You for sending us Jesus Christ, Your only begotten Son, as the fulfilment of all our hopes. Thank You for Your healing and restoration through His death and resurrection. Amen.
    Jakarta, 12 December 2014
    A Christian Pilgrim