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World Day for Consecrated Life Set for February 4-5 in U.S.

The 16th annual World Day for Consecrated Life will be observed in parishes in the United States the weekend of February 4-5.

The annual celebration was established by Pope John Paul II in 1997, to be marked each year on February 2, the Feast of the Presentation.

The U.S. bishops voted to observe the occasion the weekend following the feast, to highlight men and women religious in consecrated life as part of weekend Mass celebrations and to enable expressions of appreciation for the service of those who have chosen the consecrated life and to pray for an increase of vocations.

Archbishop Robert J. Carlson of St. Louis, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations (CCLV), heralded the role of religious.

“Many consecrated men and women share Christ’s light and love through their work in parish or diocesan ministries, education, health care, social services, spiritual direction and prayer,” he said. “Through their service and vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, they show that Jesus Christ is our most valued possession.”

The Church recognizes several forms of consecrated life, said Father Shawn McKnight, executive director of the Secretariat. “All who embrace the consecrated life promise poverty, chastity and obedience,” he said. “Religious priests, sisters and brothers live and pray in community, and they serve the Church in apostolic service or are wholly devoted to contemplation. Members of secular institutes fulfill their promises living within, not apart from, the world. Consecrated virgins, who are consecrated by the diocesan bishop, also serve the Church while remaining within the world, and hermits observe separation from the world in solitude, prayer and penance.”

Prayers of the Faithful, a bulletin announcement and a prayer card for the World Day for Consecrated Life can be found on the U.S. bishops’ website here .

In 1997, Pope John Paul II instituted a day of prayer for women and men in consecrated life. This celebration is attached to the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord on February 2nd. This Feast is also known as Candlemas Day; the day on which candles are blessed symbolizing Christ who is the light of the world. So too, those in consecrated life are called to reflect light of Jesus Christ to all peoples. The celebration of World Day for Consecrated Life is transferred to the following Sunday in order to highlight the gift of consecrated persons for the whole Church.

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.

Prayer Intentions

Let’s once again unite our prayers this month with those of Pope Benedict XVI. Here are the Holy Father’s intentions for September 2011, as published by the Apostleship of Prayer:

  • Teachers. That all teachers may know how to communicate the love of truth and instill authentic moral and spiritual values.
  • Church in Asia. That the Christian communities of Asia may proclaim the Gospel with fervor, witnessing to its beauty with the joy of faith.

In addition, as we approach the tenth anniversary of 9/11 this month, may we also pray for a new outpouring of healing, mercy, and peace throughout the world. Check out the USCCB website for resources for parish and diocesan observances of the anniversary.

More for Your Vocation

Last week at Rome Reports there was an intriguing video highlighting the vocation efforts of the United States bishops, especially a new series of videos at the Bishops’ For Your Vocation website.

I just visited the For Your Vocation website, and on this occasion I visited their blog and several other pages. What struck my attention this time (I hadn’t noticed it previously) was this vocations quiz–a series of questions to help young people go deeper in their discernment. And of course the site provides information on the upcoming vocations fair at World Youth Day, including the schedule of events.

IRL’s New Blog

About the USCCB.With this post, the Institute on Religious Life (IRL) launches its new blog, entitled “An Undivided Heart.” If you’re looking for news, commentary, or resources on vocations–especially vocations to the consecrated life–you’ve come to the right place. Welcome!

One of the five pastoral priorities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) at this time is the promotion of priestly and religious vocations. In furtherance of this priority, the USCCB has created the For Your Vocation website, which is nicely done and contains a wealth of useful resources.

One recent post at the For Your Vocation website is “Top 10 for 2011″: a helpful listing of ten highly recommended vocation sites. While all the sites listed in this top ten have obvious merit, a few deserve special mention here:

First, I was happy to see the new Vocation Boom site at the head of the list. It’s the work of Catholic Answers’ Jerry Usher, and For Your Vocation justifiably calls it the “best new resource on Priesthood.”

Second, it was great that the website of the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia in Nashville (aka the Nashville Dominicans) made the list. The Nashville Dominicans are affiliates of the IRL, and their site was singled out for its beauty and depth.

Last but not least, it was gratifying to see that the IRL’s website also made the top ten, because of (a) “its diverse resources for vocation discernment,” and (b) “its valuable links to religious communities.”

We are grateful for this recognition of the IRL, and now with this daily blog we hope to only enhance our service to the Church and especially to all who turn to us, desiring to love Our Lord with an undivided heart.