Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, hosted a gathering of members in Consecrated Life on Thursday April 22.
More than 80 of us assembled to enjoy an evening of connection and community. Following the joyful celebration of the Eucharist, we enjoyed a delicious meal at which the 16 Brothers and Sisters who have reached Jubilee milestones – 40, 50, 60 and, yes, 70 years – were acknowledged. Their presence added much to the evening, as their enjoyment at remembering milestones of commitment and dedication was infectious.
The most senior Sister, Jacinta Schaeler SGS, is ready to celebrate her 70th year in Consecrated Life with the same enthusiasm she has brought to her whole life in ministry. Her words to us on the evening provided an inspiration to likewise live our commitment with such enthusiasm. Her clarion call to us all was to care for our precious and threatened earth.
Equally inspirational was the reflection on Religious Life in the time of Pope Francis given by Sister Libby Rogerson IBVM. Quoting Pope Francis, Libby said that “Religious need to have the gaze that seeks out our neighbour.” She said that gaze needs to be from the edges, not the centre. Thus, Consecrated men and women need to know of the concerns of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, asylum seekers, members of the LGBTQI+ community, struggling single parents and all too often women and walk with them. Thus, consecrated life is about encounter – encounter with God, with Jesus, with the challenge of the Gospel, with those at the very edge.
Sister Libby’s words reflected the words of Bishop Vincent in his homily. While thanking the gathering for our life of commitment and dedication, he reminded us that the mission of men and women in consecrated life is to be with those on the edges and to be, as reminded by Pope Francis, people of hope and joy.
Bishop Vincent concluded his homily with these words of encouragement: “today, as we go through a process of purification, may it be a time of deepening of commitment, of grounding in our core values and of discerning what needs to die and what needs to rise. Then we can embody the Good News and spread its joy to the world.”
Sr Ailsa Mackinnon RSM is the Vicar for Consecrated Life and the Chancellor (Ministries) in the Diocese of Parramatta.