The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord is celebrated as the World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life. This year, Pope Francis is calling all consecrated men and women in religious, monastic and contemplative institutes, in secular institutes and new institutes, members of the ordo virginum, hermits, members of societies of apostolic life to go back to their vocational call as Christians to rediscover the enthusiasm, amazement and joy of being part of the large project of love for which others, like them, make their lives available for the good of humanity.
One woman living a consecrated life was Sister Janet Mead RSM. Sister Janet died on Australia Day, having spent her life making herself available for the good of humanity. A gifted musician and a teacher, Sister Janet began gathering young people to join in providing music and singing in the St Francis Xavier Cathedral, Adelaide. In 1978, her composition of the music of the Our Father won universal acclaim and she became the first Australian artist to have a gold record in the USA. This fame encouraged her to produce three albums of sacred music which particularly appealed to young people. This music has enlivened the weekly Romero Community Mass.
With the royalties she earned from these productions and from subsequent fundraising, she spent the money on causes to assist in eradicating injustices in Australia and beyond. These included the Adelaide Day Centre for Homeless People, advocacy for aboriginal people and refugees and funding of projects on Vietnam and South Africa. What a great contribution one religious Sister of Mercy has done for the good of humanity. All done with enthusiasm, joy, humility and compassion.
On this World Day of Consecrated Life, let us pray that those consecrated to God by their vows may seek to live their baptismal promises more intensely and have the grace to persevere in their commitment to our God and serve with open and willing spirits.
Sr Ailsa Mackinnon RSM is the Vicar for Consecrated Life and the Chancellor (Ministries) in the Diocese of Parramatta.