Opening The Year Of Consecrated Life
The year of consecrated life was opened in the Diocese of Motherwell, Scotland on the 29th November 2014 by Bishop Joseph Toal who was the principal celebrant at a Mass concelebrated by 25 priests. The Mass took place at St Bride’s Church and Poor Clare Monastery Bothwell.
The Monastery is attached to St. Bride’s Church enabling the sisters to participate in Mass and other Church Services from their Chapel which looks on to the Sanctuary of the Church.
Many Religious attended the Opening Mass including members of our community in Airdrie. Our own Sr Catherine Egan read one of the readings.
Fr Ronald McAinish CSSR gave the homily which was so inspiring and challenging that the sisters relayed it to those in the community who couldn’t be present. He spoke of choosing life instead of death in our understanding of what is happening to Religious Life today:
“….we should not confuse quantity with our apostolic mission….from time to time especially in the West you hear people saying that we are dying. I honestly believe that death and diminishment are not the same – except to a secular society. In fact I think that one of the great challenges we face is dealing with the secular fatalism we so often meet, and countering it with our religious faith.
Whenever I give retreats to Religious I often talk about the danger of spiritual suicide by communities or Congregations saying “Well we have done our work and now its time to die”. But as Cardinal Braz said at a conference in Rome “One should prepare oneself for death only when God wants us to die, and not when we think we should”.
It has long been my contention that (our Redemptorist) charism is a gift of God and therefore belongs to the Church….it was an action of the Holy Spirit. It will continue locally and internationally as long as we live at the heart of the charism. I honestly think that talking of death in terms of the province is quite dangerous. We continue to put energy into this Year of Vocations precisely because we believe in a future. It will undoubtedly be a very different future, restructuring and networking and linking with other Units. And we do this not to preserve ourselves, not even to preserve the charism but simply as an act of fidelity to the gift we have been given”.
What shape this will take, none of us can predict. What we can echo are the words of Pope Francis, “that we will be ministers of the Gospel whose lives glow with fervour, who have first themselves received the joy of Christ”.
So what will we do with what we have been calling “our new found smallness”? We can either see it as diminishment/death, or we can view it as invitation/new way of living and ministering”.
After Communion there was a Renewal of Consecration among all Religious present.
The celebration was a very enriching experience, giving the opportunity for participation together in something that is fundamental to us all, our consecration, and the opportunity to meet other Religious in the diocese.
After the Mass everyone was invited to St. Bride’s Pastoral Centre for refreshments and then many of the Religious, visited the Poor Clares Monastery. The Poor Clare Sisters said that they were delighted for the opportunity to meet so many other Religious and felt encouraged by their presence.