By Sister Julie Myers, OSF
In 2013, Pope Francis declared that a Year of Consecrated Life (YCL) be celebrated throughout the world. This special year began on the first Sunday of Advent, November 30, 2014, and will soon close, on the World Day of Consecrated Life, February 2, 2016. Our local diocese of Toledo is hosting a special liturgy to celebrate the closing of this spectacular year on Saturday, February 6, 2016. How did this time fly by and what did we do with it?
The overall theme celebrating this special year in the United States was “Wake Up The World”. Logos were created for everyone to use on their stationary and vocational material, and the National Religious Vocation Conference even commissioned Steven C. Warner, composer and professor of liturgical music at the University of Notre Dame, to compose a song which he titled: “Wake the World with Dawning Joy”. Through the encouragement of our dear Pope, Vatican officials identified events that would take place in Rome as well as events to be carried out in dioceses, parishes, and Motherhouses all over the world.
These celebrations were created to bring awareness and attention of the gift of consecrated life to the people of God—the people in the pews, the streets, work places, jails, schools, hospitals, businesses and everywhere in between. Maybe you found yourself taking part in an event at your local parish. My congregation, the Sisters of St. Francis, Sylvania, hosted an open house, as did many religious congregations across the United States. We were called to open our doors and welcome the world into our lifestyle to see that we are ordinary people doing ordinary work in extraordinary ways. St Francis challenged his brothers to see the world as their cloister—meaning to go out and make their home among God’s people.
This distinguished year was a boost in the spirit for many people—especially the men and women who have dedicated their lives to the service of God through vowed life. There is value and grace for the vocation of religious life in our world, but I do not believe it holds any greater or lesser value than the vocation of marriage or single life. Each of us is called through our own uniqueness to live the one vocation given to us by God—that which challenges and defines us. We know when we have found it for the “yes” fits our lips and lingers forever in our hearts.
My vocation is priceless, as is yours, not because it is easy or glorious, but because God defined it the day he sent me into this world. I pray daily to live well this gift I have been given and it has become my mantra: “Gracious God, bless my mind, tongue, heart, hands, spirit, soul and the cell you created to hold it all together, that I might live worthily the vocation to which you have called me.” May you find the grace to live your vocation well and the desire to celebrate it daily…and may you wake up the world with your joy!!