In observance of World Day for Consecrated Life (Feb. 2), Bishop John Noonan celebrated a Mass on Jan. 30 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe. Religious sisters, priests and brothers were honored for consecrating their lives to Jesus and choosing a life of service dedicated to building the kingdom of God on earth.
Bishop John Noonan thanked all religious for their continuous vocation and effort to bring the “message of the Lord” into every community of Central Florida saying, “The history of the Church in Central Florida is because of you all and your hard work with children, with migrants, with the marginalized. It’s all because of you. So thank you for being the hands and feet of the ministry.”
Bishop Noonan says a consecrated life is a gift that is truly meant to be shared, a gift to bring mercy to the lives of others. In the Diocese of Orlando there are 23 religious communities of priests and brothers and 27 religious communities of sisters who bring that gift of hope and mercy to the people of Central Florida.
“I have been serving in the Diocese of Orlando since 1973, so an event like this, I always want to be part of since it shows our commitment to the diocese and the communities we serve throughout Florida,” said Sister of Notre Dame de Namur Teresa McElwee. “I am so proud of the work we are all doing.”
Third Order Regular Franciscan Father Anthony Aarons, who was appointed by Pope Francis as a Missionary of Mercy, delivered the homily. He said the transition from the Year of Consecrated Life to the Year of Mercy should be seamless.“It isn’t by chance that we’re still immersed in the Year of Consecrated Life,” said Father Aarons. “We are immersed in this moment because we must look back to the past with gratitude, look forward to the future in hope, but even more so, learn to live in the present with passion. As we are living this present with passion, we ask that the Year of Mercy comes to us completely.”
Pope Francis, who is a Jesuit priest, met with some 5,000 men and women at the Vatican on Feb. 1 to mark the close of the Year for Consecrated life, which began Nov. 30, 2014.
The pope thanked religious men and women for their work, especially consecrated women. “What would the church be if there were no sisters?” he asked, recalling their presence in Catholic hospitals, schools, parishes and missions around the world.
For Third Order Regular Franciscan Father Patrick Quinn, his commitment in the Lord is driven by obedience and trust.
“It is important that as the Year of Consecrated life ends, we live our lives in fraternity, to work as a community and to follow with obedience,” said Father Quinn, pastor of Our Lady Star of the Sea parish in New Smyrna Beach. “I’ve been to many different places in this vocation and gladly I’d go where the Lord tells me to go next.”
To learn more about the religious communities serving in the Diocese of Orlando, visit: www.orlandodiocese.org/ministries-offices/consecrated-life.