This week on Register Radio, Jeanette De Melo focuses on the Year of Consecrated Life.  She talks with Bishop Michael Burbidge who leads the U.S. Bishops Committee for Consecrate Life about his hopes for the year.  Then Jeanette talks with Register reporter Roxanne King about what dioceses around the country are doing to celebrate men and women religious.

The Year of Consecrated Religious with Bishop Michael Burbidge

Bishop Michael Burbidge of the Diocese of Raleigh, N.C., chairs the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations; and in this interview with the Register, he talks of the beauty of the consecrated life…and explains how the bishops’ conference is trying to get that conversation about consecrated life down to the parish and family levels.

“It’s very good for us to stop and pause, as we did for the Year for Priests, for example,” said Bishop Burbidge about this Year of Consecrated Religious. “Let’s focus on this beautiful vocation, try to understand it better, to recognize the gifts that it brings, the blessings that it brings.”

Among the focus points he mentioned: What is that vocation of consecrated life? How is it lived out and what are its various forms? Who are these men and women who have lived this life and are still doing so today.

The Year began on November 30, the first Sunday of Advent, and continues through February 2, 2016.

Bishop Burbidge said that the bishops are “trying to provide, in consultation with the men’s and women’s religious entities, some ideas, some resources, but what would be key would be for the local dioceses to make it real and personal for their own diocese.”

There are three activities the USCCB has highlighted and would like to see are a day of prayer with religious men and women, a day of visiting and being in their homes (i.e., convents and monasteries), and a day of service with the religious.

“We want our faithful to do [these activities] as families, because we know that vocations are built and strengthened in family life,” said Bishop Burbidge.

“The Year for Consecrated Life will be a great opportunity just to have the discussion” about consecrated life within families, and Bishop Burbidge shared that he sees that parents want their children to be happy. “That genuine happiness and true joy is only found in doing God’s will. What has God created me for? What is his purpose? What is his divine call? What is the Lord asking me to do for my life?”

This is a chance to better understand religious life and for parents to encourage their children to consider it. It’s also a possibility that parents and families will be able to see more of the reality of consecrated life by actually visiting one.

“The consecrated life is a yes to the Lord’s call to consecrate, to give one’s life totally in service to the Lord and his Church,” Bishop Burbidge said. “The initiative comes from God, the response is given through grace, and the joy comes in finding God’s holy will.”

Bishop Burbidge continued, explaining more about religious life. Communities are united around a charism, a focus that is their purpose, and living it out together is part of that life. The vows of poverty, complete dependence on the Lord; chastity, that we are temples of the Spirit and we give ourselves over physically and spiritually to the Lord’s call; and obedience, which is where we find our freedom.

Part of what we need to do during this Year of Consecrated Religious, Bishop Burbidge said, is to teach and share about what these vocations do in the life of the Church. “It’s about education,” he said. “Let’s educate. Let’s encounter these women and men religious in their work, in their apostolates, and let’s entrust them and the need for more vocations to the Lord through our prayer.”

Our young people need help to listen. Amid the many voices they have around them, it can be hard to distinguish God’s voice and the silence needed to hear it.

Bishop Burbidge recommended praying for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, based on her fiat and her yes to God, during this Year of Consecrated Life. He also said, “Who’s your saint? Who’s your hero? Who’s your patron? Ask that saint to do something specific for you.”

Links of interest:

Celebrating Men and Women Religious with Roxanne King

Roxanne King is a Register correspondent who writes from Denver. She was formerly the editor of the Denver Catholic Register. She’ll talk with Jeanette about what dioceses around the country are doing to celebrate men and women religious.

In Pope Francis’ recent letter to consecrated people, he issued a challenge to them to “wake up the world,” explained King. “What he said was, ‘I am counting on you to wake up the world. And the wake-up call is for all Christians to live the Good News of salvation as a joyful, life-transforming event, which consecrated persons profoundly model by leaving everything to follow Christ.’ The Holy Father that radical, evangelical living is not only for religious, but they are a special sign of what that Christian call is to live our lives with joy and hope.”

King mentioned that the pope outlined three goals for the Year: To look to the past with gratitude, to live the present with passion, and to embrace the future with hope. “He encourages them in the letter to look back to their beginnings, their founders, who read the signs of the time with the eyes of faith and responded creatively to the needs of the Church,” King said. “Gratefully remembering the past attunes them to listening to what the Holy Spirit is calling their community to now. And to embrace the future with hope [is] to not be discouraged when they are experiencing challenges such as a decrease in vocations.”

In her research for her recent article about how dioceses around the United States are celebrating the Year of Consecrated Life, King said she found “great excitement.” King shared examples of how different dioceses and communities are kicking off this year.

“It’s a beautiful, special time that families have to be welcomed into the homes of consecrated men and women, to share their life of prayer, to learn about their different charisms, their different apostolates, and parents can help their children to see or to consider what their vocational calling may be. It may well be to marriage and family, but it may be to serve as a consecrated man or woman,” King said. This year will also “serve to open their eyes to the beauty and the joy of consecrated life.”

Links of interest: