February 11, 2020
|Sister Francesca Walterscheid, SSMN, (second from left) and other religious sisters chant during Vespers for World Day of Consecrated Life at St. Bartholomew Parish February 7. (NTC/Jayme Donahue) See more photos|
FORT WORTH — “I would do it all over again.” With conviction in her voice and a twinkle in her eye, Sister Teresa Rodriguez, HCG, reflected on her vows with the religious order Hermanas Catequistas Guadalupanas. On Feb. 14, she will mark 50 years of teaching children and their parents as a religious sister.
She said “I’m as excited as the first day I pronounced my vows. I’m evaluating and looking back, and I have enjoyed every bit.”
Sr. Teresa is “excited and amazed” at how quickly time has passed since she first took her vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. However, the urgency of her mission hasn’t waned. She said, “It’s exciting especially when you give yourself to the people so that they can know who God is and why they’re the Church and why they’re Catholic. It’s exciting to evangelize.”
Sr. Teresa is one of 53 religious women working in the diocese. Those sisters, and the 58 religious order priests in the diocese, were invited to St. Bartholomew Parish on Feb. 7 to celebrate the World Day of Consecrated Life with Solemn Vespers followed by dinner.
The annual celebration honors and prays for those living a consecrated life in a religious order. The Diocese of Fort Worth is served by 13 religious orders of sisters and 12 religious orders of priests.
Sister Diana Rodriguez, HCG, said living by vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience “is both a struggle and a challenge. Because we struggle in life, just like anybody else does. But the struggle is a strength, because you move forward with your vows — you follow Christ and it makes you much stronger. The daily struggles are something that’s going to make you stronger in life.”
Established in 1997 by St. John Paul II, the annual event occurs near the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, when Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem. There, a devout man named Simeon recognized the infant Jesus as the Messiah.
Pope Francis, in his Feb. 1 homily for the World Day of Consecrated Life, compared the religious men and women to Simeon, saying, “You, too, dear consecrated brothers and sisters, you are simple men and women who caught sight of the treasure worth more than any worldly good. And so, you left behind precious things, such as possessions, such as making a family for yourselves. Why did you do this? Because you fell in love with Jesus, you saw everything in Him, and enraptured by His gaze, you left the rest behind.”
Prayer and celebration are hallmarks of the evening. After Father Maurice Moon, a diocesan priest, led the vespers, the group of about 60 moved to the parish hall, which was soon filled with joy, laughter, and animated conversations.
Father Albert Kanjirathumkal, HGN, drove two hours from St. Mary Parish in Henrietta to attend. He pointed out that other priests had traveled farther, and that the evening is worth the drive. “I get to see all my brother priests and pray with them. It’s a great experience,” he said
This was the first diocesan celebration of consecrated life for Father Mariya Manickam, SAC, the parochial vicar of St. Michael in Bedford. He was reminded of his years in the seminary by the evening’s communal prayer with Psalms and Scripture. He said, “It’s nice to meet our friends together, get to know some sisters, and pray together as a community.”
FORT WORTH — “I would do it all over again.” With conviction in her voice and a twinkle in her eye, Sister Teresa Rodriguez, HCG, reflected on her vows with the religious order Hermanas Catequistas Guadalupanas.