Feb 3, 2014

Mass for Consecrated Life hosts nearly 150 women and men religious



Story and photos by Terence Hegarty

HOLYOKE – Sandwiched in between Groundhog Day celebrations and Super Bowl parties, vowed religious and associates celebrated their life with God as a special liturgy took place the afternoon of Feb. 2 in the chapel at Mont Marie here.

Celebrated by Springfield Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell, the 2 p.m. Mass hosted nearly 150 women and men religious representing religious orders that serve throughout the Diocese of Springfield.

Bishop McDonnell told the crowd that they gain wisdom from observing God’s presence in their lives every day and he thanked them for their service. “Not just today, but every day, may your commitment to His spirit be alive in your midst,” he said.

The annual celebration locally is part of the worldwide recognition of the dedication and the service of those who vow to live a consecrated life. Each February for the last 18 years, the Catholic Church has celebrated World Day for Consecrated Life.

Sister of St. Joseph Judith O’Connell, vicar for religious for the diocese, told iobserve that the annual celebration is meaningful for the individuals who attend because it is the only opportunity for them to gather together. “It’s very important because everyone has a special charism. And then, for the rest of the year, everyone focuses on the ministry that these consecrated religious do.

“This is the day they stop to look at the blessing of each life,” she said. She also reiterated that the Mass serves as a reminder to those living a consecrated life that they are appreciated “for giving your whole life to seek a relationship with God.”

Daughter of the Heart of Mary Chris Clark said the gathering was inspirational. “It’s a beautiful thing to gather all of those who are drawn to consecrated life,” she said, “because it’s an opportunity to show our unity in Christ.”

Clark is the Catholic advisor at Amherst College, is director of DeCice Hall at the Marian Center in Holyoke and teaches in the diocese’s diaconate formation program. Even though there are more than two dozen religious communities that serve in the diocese, and each has its own mission, Clark says that gathering together allows them to focus on their commonalities.

“It’s a way for us to celebrate our different charisms and the one spirit that unites us.”

World day for Consecrated Life is also designed to encourage individuals to pray for vocations to the consecrated life.

For more on this story, tune into an upcoming edition of “Real to Reel,” the Diocese of Springfield’s television newsmagazine that airs Saturday evenings at 7 on WWLP-22NEWS.