By Dave Eck
The season of Advent is a time of keeping Christ in the center of our lives, and those in consecrated life show us how to center our lives around Christ. They teach us by being holy and faithful, spreading their joy to those who need it the most.
That’s the message Cincinnati Auxiliary Bishop Joseph R. Binzer shared Nov. 30 at Emmanuel Church in Dayton during a liturgy to open the Year of Consecrated Life.
Bishop Binzer was the celebrant. About a half-dozen priests from various communities concelebrated.
“It is a blessing for all of us to be here to celebrate and to say ‘thanks’ to God for those who have accepted the call to consecrated life,” the bishop said in his homily. “I would imagine that all of us here are blessed to know someone in consecrated life who shares the joy of Jesus Christ in his or her ministry in a school or parish, hospital or agency in service to others or in prayer for us.”
The venerable Dayton church was packed as more than 150 men and women religious joined parishioners and friends for the Mass. Precious Blood Sisters Joyce Lehman, president of the Sisters of the Precious Blood, and Ceil Taphorn, a community councilor, were among the more than 20 Precious Blood Sisters at the liturgy.
Members of religious communities participated in the liturgy as lectors, gift bearers and Eucharistic ministers. Sisters Nicole Trahan, FMI, and Marilyn Kerber, S.N.DdeN were lectors, and Precious Blood Sister Elizabeth Westgerdes was among the gift bearers.
Pope Francis, himself a member of the Society of Jesus, has called for the Year to run worldwide from Nov. 30, 2015 to Feb. 2, 2016. The purpose of the Year is to recognize members of religious communities while giving laity a deeper understanding of religious life today. Religious communities and Catholic dioceses around the world are planning individual events to occur during the Year.
“Each of us has a call from God, and discovering God’s call for us will bring joy to our life,” said Cincinnati Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr. “Religious life/consecrated life is a viable option.”
The objectives Archbishop Schnurr has approved for the Cincinnati Archdiocesan observance of the Year are to:
• increase the visibility of religious life/consecrated life;
• express appreciation;
• highlight the joy experienced in this vocational choice;
• educate about religious life/consecrated life.
There are approximately 50,000 Catholic Sisters and 16,500 religious order priests and brothers in the United States today.