His Grace Anthony Fisher OP, Archbishop of Sydney celebrated a magnificent Mass on Saturday 11th April to mark the Year for Consecrated Life, which Pope Francis has called the Church to celebrate in 2015. Around six hundred people attended the Mass. In his address His Grace declared, “in looking at our past with gratitude, living our present with passion and embracing our future with hope, I pray that those in Consecrated Life in the Archdiocese may “wake up” Sydney with lives radiating, in the words of the Holy Father, “the joy and beauty of living the Gospel and following Christ to the full”.
His Grace extended heart-felt thanks to the eighty-seven Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life for their service, dedication and the variety of gifts and charisms they bring to the Church in Sydney,enriching the Church immensely.
Special congratulations was made to those celebrating personal jubilees and those Congregations celebrating significant anniversaries in 2015, including the:
- Passionist Sisters who celebrated 200 years since their foundation
- North Sydney Mercy Sisters celebrating 150 years since foundation
- Holy Spirit Sisters celebrating 125 years since foundation
- Jesuits celebrating 150 years since the Irish Jesuits arrived in Sydney
As well, Mary Aikenhead, foundress of the Sisters of Charity and Nano Nagle, foundress of the Presentation Sisters have been declared Venerable.
As a system of Catholic schools, we should be forever thankful of the legacy left to us by these Congregations. The history of the struggle to practise and educate people in the Catholic faith in this country is well documented. These Congregations continue to play a crucial role in the mission of evangelisation. It is through their respective charisms that they and our school communities are empowered by God to be channels of his love, mercy, beauty, truth, wisdom, healing and provision for others. By their charisms, Jesus Christ is revealed, belief becomes believable and active and encourages others to open their lives to God and receive his sanctifying grace through the sacraments.
Let us continue to be the ‘Bearers of the flame’.
Below is the Prayer for Consecrated Life that could be prayed in your school communities throughout the year.
It would be a wonderful occasion for our system of schools to celebrate this significant event in the life of the Catholic Church in Sydney. Some suggestions could include: researching Religious Congregations in Australia, interviewing those Religious on staff about their vocation and publishing this in the school/parish newsletter, researching your school founder’s charism and inviting back to your school those Religious no longer in the school to assemblies, morning teas, lunches, school community Mass.
Prayer for Consecrated Life
We may not now see our consecration as separation, splendour
As though humanity, the world itself, or the universe
Were not themselves entirely consecrated to You
By being Your home, the locus of Your love.
No, those who give themselves to You
Without the intermediary of spouse, of goods,
Become an open ear and a word heard,
A sign to the world of Your direct love for each created thing:
Love complete and undivided for each star, each bird and fish,
Each grain of sand, each falling leaf, each and every child.
Gone are the old sacrificial forms and rites
Where we thought we could give You anything.
All of it, everything, is You giving Yourself;
How gracious are You to choose me to be a gift to those You love.
What fortune it was for me to have delivered myself up to You.
You carry my bags for me, Beloved,
While I dither at Day’s door;
You have picked them up and are ready.
You are ahead of me, and yet behind and within,
Consecrating me within Your holy universe,
Consecrating me with Your poor, Your outcasts
Your oppressed ones.