WASHINGTON (June 4, 2001) -- The World Day for Consecrated Life 2002 will be marked in the United States the weekend of February 2-3.
The theme is Be Seekers of the Lord, words from Zephaniah 2:3. It was chosen to emphasize the quest of all, but in particular, young people making life choices.
Materials for the occasion will be distributed to dioceses next fall and will include such items as slicks which can be used to make brochures for distribution in parishes and homily helps that link the readings of the day to this event. For the first time, in response to requests from dioceses, materials will be in English and Spanish.
The annual celebration is part of an international observance called for by Pope John Paul II to highlight the place of institutes of consecrated life in the Church. Dioceses are urged to plan celebrations in parishes so that the event becomes a teachable moment to educate people in the pews about the significance of the vowed life.
In the United States, the celebration is overseen by the Commission on Religious Life and Ministry, which includes leaders from the National Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Consecrated Life, the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, the Conference of Major Superiors of Men and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.
Bishop Sean P. O'Malley, O.F.M. Cap., Chairman of the Consecrated Life Committee, noted the significance of the celebration.
"'Seek the Lord' stands as a challenge before all people. Many men and women have dedicated themselves entirely to the Church through membership in religious institutes and other forms of consecrated life. They are examples of what can be done when one accepts such a dare. Some religious are well known, such as Mother Teresa of the Missionaries of Charity, who worked with the poor in Calcutta slums, and Father Damien of Molokai of the Sacred Heart Fathers, who worked with lepers in Hawaiian missions. They brought Christ's touch to battered bodies and spirits. Even more religious are known only by those with whom they have come face to face, but they have lived quietly heroic lives and touched troubled hearts with the message of Jesus.
"Their lifestyle is more relevant today than ever before and should be held up for all, especially the young, to see," he added. "Their vow of poverty questions contemporary materialism and consumerism. Their vow of chastity holds up the ideal of a selfless love where people are cherished and never used. Their vow of obedience denies the value in any 'me-first' philosophy."
In 2002, the church in Canada and the United States will emphasize the importance of everyone's working for religious vocations during the Third Continental Congress on Vocations to Ordained Ministry and Consecrated Life in North America. The event is slated for April 18-21, in Montreal. Celebrations of the World Day for Consecrated Life are one way to prepare for the event.