Celebration of the Closing of Year of Consecrated Life - with Jubilarians
Our Lady of Lourdes Church
January 30, 2016
Seven of my happiest years as a priest were during the time I lived with 80 women. How is that for an opening line? But it is true. One of my early residence assignments was as Chaplain at the Sisters of Mercy Motherhouse, the community of Sr. Ann Heath, one of our Jubilarians.
You can imagine it was a bit intimidating for me to move into the community. Yet, I will always remember walking in my room on the first day and seeing a note on my desk from one of the Sisters with these words: “Welcome to our home, where mercy is lived, breathed and celebrated. It is all about mercy. Thus, we know you will be happy here.” Those words proved to be true.
I am sure our Jubilarians will also tell you “it is all about mercy.” They remember initially hearing God’s call to embrace a life of total and unreserved service to the Lord and His Church as consecrated women. However, I am sure at first they may have been fearful, like the holy women and men throughout Sacred Scripture, for perhaps they could only see their limitations and weaknesses and felt unworthy. But, in His divine plan, the Lord assured them no weakness is greater than his love and mercy. Only with confidence in God’s mercy, can we seek to do the Lord’s trusting that in his goodness He will always lift us up and sustain us in the vocations we embrace.
Dear Jubilarians, I am sure your hearts are filled with profound gratitude today as you recall the many times in your journey the Lord has done that for you as you strived daily to live your “yes” to your vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. You recall God’s gracious response to your prayers as you echoed the words of the psalmist “Create a clean heart in me, O God.” You also remember how many times, like the disciples in today’s Gospel, you experienced “stormy waters” only to experience the mercy and love of God who miraculously led you to calmness and serenity.
Filled with such gratitude, there is only one thing to do----to go out and to be instruments of his mercy. We conclude soon the Year of Consecrated Life, with its theme, “Wake Up the World,” in which Our Holy Father asked us to celebrate this beautiful vocation and those who have and continue to live it so faithfully and joyfully. What an honor it is for us to do so in our diocese especially as we honor our Jubilarians, Sr. Ann, Sr. Janet and Sr. Angie, who through the years and in their ministries of teaching, counseling and social work have helped to “wake up the world” to the love and mercy of God. How blessed we are to be beneficiaries of that witness here in this diocese.
In giving us this Jubilee Year of Mercy, Pope Francis said: “Mercy is the force that reawakens us to new life and instills in us the courage to look to the future with hope.”
Ever grateful for the witness of our Jubilarians and all the Religious serving in our diocese and throughout the Church, may we who are strengthened with the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus and assisted with the help of Mary our Mother, go forth in joyful hope to live, breathe and celebrate mercy with a renewed commitment to be instruments of that precious gift to our brothers and sisters in most need and to all those we love and serve forever and ever. Amen.