Sisters of the Merciful Jesus from Maskwacis were among the numerous orders of religious men and women who took part in the Feb. 2 Mass ending the Year for Consecrated Life.

WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ

Sisters of the Merciful Jesus from Maskwacis were among the numerous orders of religious men and women who took part in the Feb. 2 Mass ending the Year for Consecrated Life.

February 22, 2016
RAMON GONZALEZ
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Religious orders have been an excellent investment for the Church and society, says the archbishop of Edmonton.

"The return on this investment is manifold, visible in education, care of the sick and outreach to the poor," Archbishop Richard Smith told consecrated men and women during the Feb. 2 closing Mass of the Year of Consecrated Life.

"In this mission of announcing Christ as light and hope, consecrated religious have participated in a unique and indispensable manner.

"By their total self-consecration, they witness to the light, to Christ, whose love draws them entirely out of themselves; by their complete dedication to the service of others, they point to Christ, whose mercy instils hope and impels to mission."

The Year of Consecrated Life, which was celebrated throughout the world, began on the First Sunday of Advent in November 2014 and came to a close on the World Day of Consecrated Life Feb. 2.

The year, initiated by Pope Francis, aimed to be an occasion of renewal for men and women in consecrated life, of thanksgiving among the faithful for the service of sisters, brothers and priests, and an invitation to young Catholics to consider a religious vocation.

Members of several religious orders attended the Mass at St. Joseph's Basilica. Some of them served at the Mass.

"Religious do not stand idly by. Where there is a need to be met, they respond, often when no one else will," the archbishop said in his homily.

On his recent visit to India, Smith met many suffering people who he said would be living on the streets if it were not for the notice and care of religious.

"In our own country and province, the foundations of our educational, health care and social outreach systems were set by religious at a time when few others could respond to these needs, and this was done at great personal cost."

Today, religious continue to search out and respond to unmet needs.

ENORMOUS ENERGY

"I think, for example, of the enormous energy that religious have put into raising awareness of the scourge of human trafficking, and their actions to rescue victims from it."

Smith said the example of discipleship given by religious women and men challenges us to consider our own response to the Lord. "Your legacy is one of great heroism, born of a love for Christ and his Church and a commitment to live by the power of his love.

Franciscan Br. Joe Glaab

Franciscan Br. Joe Glaab

"Thank you for your witness; thank you for your fidelity; thank you for your service to God's people."

Redemptorist Father Dino Benedet said he never gave much thought to the Year of Consecrated Life, except on the final day.

TREMENDOUS CONTRIBUTIONS

"This Mass helps us remind people of the tremendous contributions that religious communities have made to the world," Benedet said. "In fact, we are still contributing. Religious people reach out to points were lay people don't have the energy or capacity to go."

Franciscan Brother Joe Glaab said the Year of Consecrated Life sparked a renewal among religious. "It gave us an opportunity to reflect, to give thanks and to look deeper into our charisms."

Glaab said through the year he learned a lot about other religious communities and about his own community.

Sister Gertrude Mulholland, a member of the Sisters of Charity of Immaculate Conception for 56 years, said the special year brought more awareness about the life and work of religious communities.

LEARNING MORE

Mulholland, who leads retreats and provides spiritual direction, said people had the opportunity to ask questions and learn more about consecrated life.

Throughout the year, her congregation sent teams into schools in Edmonton, Sherwood Park and Fort Saskatchewan to talk about consecrated life and its meaning.

"It was a very successful year for us," she said. "It was a year of celebration."

"For me personally the Year of Consecrated Life was an opportunity for spiritual renewal because I prayed and reflected upon the meaning of my being a disciple of Jesus," said Sister Doreen Victoor, another retreat leader and spiritual director.

It has been 62 years since Victoor made her final vows with les Filles de Jesus (Daughters of Jesus), a French congregation that brought education and health care to countless Canadians.