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Minister’s Letter

Sr Sue CSF

Sr Sue CSF

Dear Friends,

2015 is The Year of the Consecrated Life. Pope Francis is dedicating this year to promoting the particular vocation of Religious Sisters and Brothers and priests. This worldwide initiative in the Roman Catholic Church echoes Archbishop Justin’s first priority when beginning his ministry as Archbishop of Canterbury: the renewal of prayer and the Religious Life.

In his ‘Letter to All Consecrated People’* to mark the beginning of the Year of the Consecrated Life, running from Advent 2014 to Candlemas 2016, Pope Francis sets out his aims and expectations. We are to look to the past with gratitude, to live the present with passion, and to embrace the future with hope. We are reminded that ‘to tell our story is to praise God and to thank him for all his gifts’ and that joy is a keynote of authentic Christian consecration. ‘It is not by proselytizing that the Church grows, but by attraction.’ We are to ‘wake up the world’: prophecy is another distinctive sign of consecrated life, so we are to ‘create alternate spaces where the gospel approach is lived’. We are to be experts in communion, offering ‘a concrete model of community which, by acknowledging the dignity of each person and sharing our respective gifts, makes it possible to live as brothers and sisters’. We are challenged to come out of ourselves, going forth to the existential peripheries, choosing not to remain as hostages to our problems. The key question is ‘What is it that God and people are asking of us?’

Ecumenical exploration of the Consecrated Life is a key element of the year’s programme. In January Brother Clark Berge, SSF Minister General, presented an excellent paper ‘The Consecrated Life in the Anglican Tradition and the Ecumenical Journey’* at an Ecumenical Symposium on the Consecrated Life, held in Rome, where Sister Joyce and Brother Desmond Alban were also among the Anglican representatives.

Clark identifies three contributions of Anglican Orders to the ecumenical journey:-

  • our prioritizing of prayer and worship,
  • our lack of church law and our small size which allows us to provoke change in religious life and maybe in the church,
  • our religious vocation among Anglicans which crosses denominational and social boundaries.

Clark reminds us that these are blessings: a God-given way for us to be in the world, and that God’s purpose is freedom and creativity.

The January issue of franciscan prominently featured people’s stories. As one whose story was shared, I received a significant amount of feedback from those who were prompted to reflect on God’s presence and call in their own story. I was also reminded of a friend, not a practicing Christian, who attended my Life Profession and during that service recognised Christ’s call in her very different circumstances, subsequently receiving Confirmation with great joy. Our stories, individual and corporate, and our joyful commitment to shared living in response to God’s call are powerful tools that the Holy Spirit uses to call others.

I commend to you Pope Francis’ prayer for this Year of the Consecrated Life:

Lord of the Harvest,

Bless young people with the gift of courage to respond to your call. Open their hearts to great ideals, to great things.

Inspire all of your disciples to mutual love and giving – for vocations blossom in the good soil of faithful people.

Instil those in religious life, parish ministries, and families with the confidence and grace to invite others to embrace the bold and noble path of a life consecrated to you.

Unite us to Jesus through prayer and sacrament, so that we may cooperate with you in building your reign of mercy and truth, of justice and peace. Amen.

May the Lord give you Peace.

Sue CSF

 

*Both documents can be read online or downloaded.

 

For Pope Francis’ ‘Letter’, via the Vatican website or http://tinyurl.com/l5zata9

 

For Clark Berge’s paper, via the European Province website, franciscans.org.uk or :

http://tinyurl.com/ndsmw8o