December 23, 2014
Catholics in the Diocese of Fort Worth searching for a meaningful 2015 New Year’s resolution might look in the direction Pope Francis is pointing. The pope proclaimed 2015 as “The Year of Consecrated Life” and has asked Catholics throughout the world to observe it. The designated year provides the opportunity for the faithful to show support for the men and women who serve the Church as religious, to be attentive to God’s call in their own lives, and to help others who may have a calling.
In response to the Holy Father, the local Church will host “The Diocese of Fort Worth Celebration for The Year of Consecrated Life, Clergy, and Vocations” on Feb. 6, 2015, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at St. Patrick Cathedral in Fort Worth, and continuing at the adjacent Pastoral Center. The day will mark this year’s World Day of Consecrated Life and kick off the local observance for the Year of Consecrated Life.
“Show everyone that to follow Christ and to put his Gospel into practice fills your hearts with happiness!” the pope said in a message to leaders of religious orders, congregations, and communities on Nov. 29, 2014, when he announced the observance.
“Religious life ought to promote growth in the Church by way of attraction. The Church must be attractive. Wake up the world! Be witnesses of a different way of doing things, of acting, of living! It is possible to live differently in this world.”
The year marks the 50th anniversary of Perfectae Caritatis, a decree on religious life, and Lumen Gentium, the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Church. Globally, the Year of Consecrated Life started on the First Sunday of Advent, Nov. 30, 2014, and will conclude Feb. 2, 2016, on the World Day for Consecrated life.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has added to the celebration by naming it the “Year of Consecrated Life, Clergy, and Vocations.”
USCCB President Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, explained in a statement, “Our brothers and sisters in Christ living consecrated lives make great contributions to our society through a vast number of ministries. They teach in our schools, take care of the poor and the sick, and bring compassion and the love of Christ to those shunned by society; others lead lives of prayer in contemplation for the world.”
Heading up the Feb. 6 diocesan celebration committee are Vocations Director Father James Wilcox and Sister Yolanda Cruz, SSMN, associate director of Women,s Vocations. The celebration at St. Patrick will include Solemn Vespers presided over by Bishop Michael Olson, with the Holy Trinity Seminary Schola Cantorum singing inspirational hymns and chants.
“That will be so beautiful to have our seminarians there participating in this way,” said Sr. Yolanda. “We’re hoping to really pack the cathedral.”
Following the Vespers service, the faithful will be able to visit personally with religious priests, sisters, and brothers at the pastoral center. Sr. Yolanda envisions the event as a “religious fair” where the faithful can get to know one another.
“This will give people a chance to see all of the religious orders of men and women working in our diocese,” Fr. Wilcox said. “I think many people will be surprised when they see how many we have. But, that’s not to say we couldn’t use a lot more of them.”
The Diocese of Fort Worth, which includes more than 700,000 Catholics in 28 counties, is served by approximately 100 priests — about half of whom are religious. Also serving God and the faithful in the diocese are 87 religious sisters, several religious brothers, and more than 100 permanent deacons. In addition, the diocese has more than 30 seminarians preparing to serve the local Church.
The diocesan celebration and the yearlong observance will include all those who have devoted their vocations full-time to serving God, Fr. Wilcox and Sr. Yolanda said. That way, the events can be inclusive for all those who serve the Church, both those who have consecrated their lives to Christ as religious and others who have chosen to follow Christ along other paths: the diocesan priesthood, the diaconate, or by preparing for the priesthood as a seminarian.
“These are all people who have dedicated their lives to the work of Jesus Christ,” Fr. Wilcox said. He added that the designated day and year honoring them will not only help people grow closer to those who serve the Church in these ways, but inspire others to be more attentive in listening to God’s call. At the same time, those who have already answered his call can take joy in the fact that the Holy Father is recognizing their important work and asking others to do the same.
As vocations director for one of the fastest-growing dioceses in the nation, he is hopeful that more people may hear God’s call as a result. In the months ahead, he said, retreats, youth events, and other activities will turn some focus on the Year of Consecrated Life and prayers for vocations.
Sr. Yolanda, like other consecrated women serving the local Church, took vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. She provided a deeper look into how priests, sisters, brothers, and deacons will benefit from the diocesan event and the entire Year of Consecrated Life:
“One of the objectives of all this is to pray for these men, these women, all of us,” Sr. Yolanda said. “Because we are weak. We need the prayers of our brothers and sisters in Christ to keep us going, to keep us faithful, and to keep us focused on our lives.
“And it encourages people to pray for us as we’re discerning, because sometimes we might get lukewarm,” she added. “The pope is looking for a joy-filled people — people with stamina — to serve Christ. So this year really is not only to promote vocations or to help people become aware and pray for us, but it’s also for us to renew ourselves and come away with more zest in life and be more the face of Christ.”
USCCB Year of Consecrated Life, Clergy and Vocations: http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/vocations/consecrated-life/year-of-consecrated-life/index.cfm
Pope Francis Feb. 2, 2014, Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, “A Letter to Consecrated Men and Women”: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccscrlife/documents/rc_con_ccscrlife_doc_20140202_rallegratevi-lettera-consacrati_en.html
In faithful response to the Holy Father, the local Church will host “The Diocese of Fort Worth Celebration for The Year of Consecrated Life, Clergy, and Vocations” on Feb. 6, 2015, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at St. Patrick Cathedral in Fort Worth, and continuing at the adjacent Pastoral Center. The day will mark an observance for this year’s World Day for Consecrated Life and serve as the start of the 2015 Year of Consecrated Life.