Celebrating the Year of Consecrated Life

Australian Bishops Release Pastoral Letter on Calling to Religious Life

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A pastoral letter to commemorate the Year of Consecrated Life dated February 26 was published this week by the Australian Catholic Bishops Commission for Church Ministry.

“We welcome the invitation of Pope Francis to make this a year of thanksgiving and of deeper reflection on the calling of the consecrated men and women among us,” it stated.

“Australia is blessed to have had so many religious sisters, brothers and priests living and ministering here for almost one hundred and seventy five years,” the bishops said.

“We know that despite their various expressions of the consecrated life, our sisters and brothers are united in pointing us to God; by the way they dedicate their whole lives to the Lord. We thank God for their incalculable contributions as they witness amongst us,” the letter continued.

The bishops described those who have consecrated their lives to God as “catalysts for renewal.”

“Their task is to inspire and to keep the fire of the Gospel burning for the sake of the Church and of the world.”

Quoting Pope Francis the letter commented that consecrated men and women are called upon to offer a model of community which makes it possible for us live as brothers and sisters.

“Those who live the Gospel in this way radiate a joy that can only come from God, a joy that is attractive to those around them.”

The letter also referred to St John Paul II who said that religious are called upon to be the icon of the transfigured Christ. “. The transfiguration here is the result of the deep and personal union with Christ and at the same time the result of the suffering with Christ.”

The bishops also mentioned the passage in chapter 16 of the Gospel of Matthew where Christ invited his followers to take up their cross and follow him.

“‘Take up your cross’, the cross of the everyday commitments, the everyday demands in which we meet God. In following Christ, we must also take up the cross of Christ.”

“Religious congregations, some old, and maybe even some new, will continue to quietly inspire us by selfless lives of poverty, chastity and obedience; offering a humble, yet powerful, counter-witness to the emptiness that so often surrounds us,” the letter observed.

Referring to the impact that religious have on the wider community the letter said that: “For many busy and harried Catholics, it is often the human presence of those in consecrated life, as well as their houses and prayer centres, which provide important reminders, occasions and resources for personal prayer, reflection and quiet.”

“Marvelling at how God the Father always provides the Church with the testimony of the consecrated life, we thank each religious institute and apostolic society in our country, and all of you who are their members, for your generosity and faithfulness. We pray that the Lord Jesus will continue to call men and women to be his evangelical witnesses,” the letter concluded.

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Fr. John Flynn

Australia Bachelor of Arts from the University of New South Wales. Licence in Philosophy from the Pontifical Gregorian University. Bachelor of Arts in Theology from the Queen of the Apostles.

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