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Religious Renewal in Ukraine

Redemptoristine Sisters in Ukraine

“The people bear witness to their faith quite openly.” With these words, Sister Margret Obereder, Provincial Mother Superior of the Redemptoristine Order in the Ukraine, described the religious revival in that East European country.

In this post at the Aid to the Church in Need website, author Michael Varenne reports that the Conference of Mothers Superior of Orders of the Greek-Catholic Church in the Ukraine, which is headed by Sister Obereder, now has a membership of 19 religious order communities with 850 Sisters.

In the last few years, 24 young women have joined the Order of Redemptoristines alone. They are active in five parishes in Lviv, Kamianets-Podilskyi, Ternopil and Chernihiv, especially in the area of youth ministry.

Blackberries or Not, Women Keep Coming to the Poor Clares

When a young woman knocks on the large wooden door of the Poor Clare Colettines in Rockford, Illinois to learn more about the sisters’ way of life, she is sometimes put off by what she sees. She might be used to driving a nice car, carrying a Blackberry, and enjoying the pleasure of fine food and drink.

But what she sees are barefoot nuns walking quietly who then share a meal of beans and rice. She may have experienced a world of exciting nights out, of a seemingly endless possibility of relationships. But what she finds here is the solitude of a flickering candle in a plain chapel, and the joyful laughter of friends bound by lifelong vows.

Why, then, are women today attracted to the sisters’ form of life? Maybe because they see the sisters living “according to the form of the Gospel,” as inspired by their foundress, St. Clare–a motivation that has been sending them to their doors for eight hundred years.

Are you interested in learning more about Poor Clare life? If you are seriously considering this vocation, the sisters invite you to come and see if the voice of Christ is calling you to their life. A discernment visit from two to five days may be arranged on an individual basis by contacting Mother Dominica (pictured above), at the Corpus Christi Monastery in Rockford at 815-963-7369.

For a typical day in the life of the sisters see, “All Time Is at the Service of God.” Or read about what Blessed John Paul II said about the difficulties of accepting Christ’s invitation on the Poor Clares’ youth page.

Year of Faith

On January 6th, the Holy See issued a series of pastoral recommendations for the Year of Faith, which will begin next October to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

The Year of Faith will also coincide with the upcoming Synod of Bishops on the new evangelization.

This bold initiative of Pope Benedict XVI includes all sectors of the Church. Here is what the Holy See suggested concerning the involvement of consecrated men and women in the forthcoming Year of Faith:

“During this time, members of Institutes of Consecrated Life and of Societies of Apostolic Life are asked to work towards the new evangelization with a renewed union to the Lord Jesus, each according to their proper charism, in fidelity to the Holy Father and to sound doctrine.

“Contemplative communities, during the Year of Faith, should pray specifically for the renewal of the faith among the People of God and for a new impulse for its transmission to the young.

“Associations and ecclesial movements are invited to promote specific initiatives which, through the contribution of their proper charism and in collaboration with their local pastors, will contribute to the wider experience of the Year of Faith. The new communities and ecclesial movements, in a creative and generous way, will be able to find the most appropriate ways in which to offer their witness to the faith in service to the Church.”

Visitation Sisters Rejoice in Worldwide Growth

As Visitation Sisters around the world look forward to the feast of St. Francis de Sales on January 24th, the sisters in the United States say that an interest in the spirituality crafted by St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane de Chantal remains strong and shows signs of growth.

That’s true, judged by web visits to the Sisters’ new Second Federation website, begun last February 26th. Visits have increased to 650 per month, according to the Order’s federation of five houses throughout the eastern and mid-western United States. The website has posted a steady stream of articles on Salesian spirituality, while explaining little-known devotions and facts concerning the lives of the two founders, St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane de Chantal.

A video produced by the Second Federation, “Longsuffering Leader: the Life of St. Jane de Chantal” has gained nearly 3,000 views since its publication in August. And its “Living Jesus Chat Room” has attracted a vibrant Sunday audience on its website, at which participants talk about the Salesian spirituality and vocation.

The Order, formally known as the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary, was founded in 1610 by Saint Francis de Sales and Saint Jane Frances de Chantal in Annecy, Haute-Savoie, France. The charism of the Visitation Order combines gentleness with a valiant spirit; initiative with communal support; dedication to prayer with presence in the world, and a contemplative life with an apostolic dimension. The order’s motto is “Vive Jésus” (French for “Live Jesus”).

The Order spread from France throughout Europe and to North America. Today they number approximately 2,500 Sisters in more than 150 monasteries throughout the world. The group is growing in Africa; there is a monastery in Korea; and in South and Central America the houses continue to expand. In the United States there are 11 monasteries in two federations. Six are dedicated to the contemplative life, and the others–Georgetown, St. Louis, Mendota Heights, Brooklyn, and Minneapolis–add apostolic works to their contemplative life.

For more information on the Visitation and its spirituality for religious and laity, visit the Second Federation of the Visitation.

National Vocation Awareness Week

National Vocation Awareness Week begins today, as dioceses across the nation embrace this time to encourage young people to think of considering a vocation to the priesthood or religious life.

It is no accident that the week begins today, as the Church celebrates the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. This feast marks the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry.

National Vocation Awareness Week focuses on vocations to the priesthood, diaconate, and consecrated life in particular. During these days, families and the parish community are urged to nurture the faith of their children to prepare them to respond to whatever God’s call is for them. Catholics are encouraged during this week to take time to pray for vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life; to reflect on our own vocation and strengthen their personal relationship with Christ; and to educate young people about the importance of silent prayer and taking the time to truly listen to God’s voice in our hearts.

Promoting Vocations in the Pacific Northwest

Portland vocations director, Fr. John Henderson

You are the one.

That’s the slogan the Archdiocese of Portland’s new vocations director uses to help Catholics discern their calling, whether it’s marriage or a single lifestyle, or religious life, the diaconate or priesthood.

Father John Henderson has been leading baptized people to find their calling in his new role in the vocations office since he was assigned to the position last summer. He oversees the 52 diocesan seminarians stationed at Mount Angel Seminary, a handful of other schools, and in local churches. He also promotes vocations in the parishes, recruiting men to the priesthood.

On his “To Do” list lately has been the preparation of the Archbishop’s Retreat, “On the Priestly Vocation,” slated for Jan. 27-29, at the Our Lady of Peace Retreat House. Father Henderson assists Archbishop John Vlazny in leading this weekend retreat for men who would like a chance to reflect on the possibility of priesthood.

For the rest of this story by Clarice Keating, staff writer for the Catholic Sentinel, click here.

More Latino Vocations

Archbishop Jose Horacio Gomez of Los Angeles

The Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has been awarded a grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation that largely underwrites a comparative cultural survey of Catholic youth in the United States.

The survey aims to identify common and distinctive cultural traits that affect the openness and ability of Catholic youth to respond to a call to a vocation to the priesthood or religious life. The Secretariat has commissioned the Center for Applied Research (CARA) at Georgetown University to conduct a national survey of never-married Catholics, ages 14 and older, to study their views about vocations and their own consideration of a vocation.

Statistical data found in two reports commissioned by the Secretariat, “The Class of 2011: Survey of Ordinands to the Priesthood” and “The Profession Class of 2010: Survey of Women Religious Professing Perpetual Vows,” indicate fewer than expected religious vocations among the Hispanic and Latino Catholic population in the U.S.

Father Shawn McKnight, executive director of the Secretariat, said that Hispanics/Latinos constituted 15 percent of the ordination class and 10 percent of the religious profession class, while constituting 34 percent of the total adult Catholic population.

“There is not enough objective data to explain the reasons for their underrepresentation,”Father McKnight said.

The Secretariat seeks to identify specific reasons for their underrepresentation, to guide the efforts by dioceses and religious communities to promote vocations.

In the same reports, other cultures show a stronger representation. For example, Asians constitute four percent of the adult Catholic population in the U.S., yet 10 percent of the past year’s ordination class were Asian.This is a consistent trend over the past 15 years. In the 2010 class of women who made their religious profession of perpetual vows, 19 percent of the entire class was Asian.Further study is needed to explore why there is such a difference in representation.

The identification of cultural elements that support and challenge a culture of vocations among Asian, Latino and the general youth population would be helpful information for collaborating organizations, such as the National Religious Vocations Conference and the National Conference of Diocesan Vocation Directors.The results of this study would also benefit those involved with the evangelization of youth, as they would indicate how the influences of culture impact the ability to reach out to all Catholic youth.

“This study will aid in the New Evangelization by serving as a helpful resource in determining emerging needs within the Church as well as assisting in the development of timely and effective responses,” said Peter Murphy, PhD, executive director of the USCCB Secretariat of Evangelization and Catechesis.

“The success of ministry among a growing number of Hispanics/Latinos requires leadership from the Hispanic/Latino community itself, especially in the priesthood and religious life,” added Father Allan Deck, former head of the USCCB Secretariat for Cultural Diversity in the Church. “This proposal is the single most important effort to find the best ways to provide the priestly leadership necessary for Hispanics/Latinos to flourish in the Church.”

Courtesy of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

Today the universal Church celebrates the feast of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774-1821), who was canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1975.

Mother Seton is a saint of many “firsts.” She opened the first tuition-free Catholic school in the United States. She formed the Sisters of Charity, the first community of consecrated religious women founded in the United States.

And she also has the privilege of being the first American-born canonized saint.

Lord God, you blessed Elizabeth Seton with gifts of grace as wife and mother, educator and foundress, so that she might spend her life in service to your people. Through her example and prayers may we learn to express our love for you in love for others. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Pope’s Intentions for January 2012

As we begin the New Year, let’s once again unite our prayers this month with those of Pope Benedict XVI. Here are the Holy Father’s intentions for January 2012, as published by the Apostleship of Prayer:

  • Victims of Natural Disasters. That the victims of natural disasters may receive the spiritual and material comfort they need to rebuild their lives.
  • Dedication to Peace. That the dedication of Christians to peace may bear witness to the name of Christ before all men and women of good will.

January is also a month especially devoted to the Holy Name of Jesus, which was popularized by St. Bernardine of Siena in the 15th century. For more on devotion to the Holy Name, click here.

Holiness, Not Hot Air

Recently at Patheos there was an article by Elizabeth Duffy on Mount de Sales Academy in Maryland, run by the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, more commonly known as the Nashville Dominicans, in which the faith is beautifully integrated into every aspect of the educational experience. Duffy writes:

“The Nashville Dominican Sisters have gained a national reputation for helping to facilitate this Catholic Identity wherever the sisters go. Many parents and administrators are wondering, how can we get the Nashville Dominicans to come into our schools and transform them? The Sisters shine a light on the potentialities of Catholic education, but they also point a way for the laity. Christ is the one who transforms us. If he is integral to our lives, he will be integral to our schools. Holiness, not hot air.”

Mount de Sales is living proof that rigorous academics and a vibrant Catholic identity need not be an either/or proposition for our Catholic schools.