WASHINGTON (January 2, 2002) -- The annual 2002 World Day for Consecrated Life will be marked in dioceses nationwide the weekend of February 2-3.
The theme is "Be Seekers of the Lord," from the Book of Zephaniah 2:3.
The celebration, which is called for by the Vatican and celebrated in Rome every February 2, is an effort to highlight the role of the consecrated life in the Church.
Local dioceses and parishes are urged to use this occasion to educate people about the consecrated life and to note the many contributions to the Church by men and women religious and members of secular institutes.
"Members of institutes of consecrated life have a vital role in the Church," said Capuchin Bishop Sean P. O'Malley of Fall River, Massachusetts, chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Commission on Religious Life and Ministry, which oversees the celebration. "The tens of thousands of men and women in institutes of consecrated life deserve our profound gratitude. Those who opt for this lifestyle today are to be especially extolled for choosing a radical way to serve the Church and society."
Profiles on six men and women pursuing the consecrated life were included in materials distributed for the occasion. Those profiled included Sister Isabel Brazero, 28, a member of the
Schoenstatt Sisters of Mercy, a secular institute; Brother Patrick Cousins, 22, a Missionary of the Sacred Heart; Father Neil Pezzulo, 39, a Glenmary Home Missionary; Sister Erin Ryan, 26, a Benedictine Sister; Sister Marie Hannah Seiler, 23, a Dominican Sister of St. Cecilia; and Sister Karen Scheer, 35, a Sister of Mercy.
The packet also includes a list of more than 20 religious, from an actuary to a Zen garden developer, and recent research on young Catholics.
Among research findings are the following:
1. Seventy-eight percent of young Catholics, 18-39, said that "the lives of priests, brothers and sisters are inspiring to me."
2. Young Catholics are not well versed in religious life. Most know a priest, brother, or sister personally and have watched one at work, but only 33 percent are clear about the difference between a diocesan priest and a religious order priest, only 52 percent said that to be a member of a religious order a person needs to be Catholic, and only 47 percent said that a person needed to be single. Eighteen percent (erroneously) said that person needed to have a college degree to pursue religious life.
3. The overwhelming majority of young people have positive images of religious life, but less than one-fourth of the men and less than one-sixth of the women have ever been asked to consider joining a religious order or community. Materials for the 2002 World Day for Consecrated Life may be found on and downloaded from the Web at www.usccb.org/vocations.