Emphasizing the importance of the religious vocation, Pope Francis announced that the year 2015 will be dedicated to Consecrated Life. He said that all Christians are called to live in imitation of Christ. Those who are consecrated as religious sisters and brothers do this in a special way. They vow their entire lives to our Lord according to the purposes of their religious orders. They teach in our schools, take care of the poor and the sick and bring compassion and the love of Christ to those shunned by society; others lead lives of prayer in contemplation for the world.
Last Sunday was the beginning of this year of dedication. It will end on February 2, 2016. Those of us, who have had Sisters and or Brothers for teachers, know their faith, dedication and hard work. They were motivated by the grace of their vocation. God called them to serve Him and his people, and He continually supplied them with the strength, stamina and help to do it well. They were for us great witnesses to God's love and to all the truths of our Catholic faith. The most impressive part of all of their work was their love for God and for us. They expected no return other than our good, growing up to be upstanding, faithful, happy men and women.
We are familiar with religious teachers. But there are also countless Brothers and Sisters who minister to the sick, the poor, the homeless and other suffering souls. Their joy lies in bringing the friendship and comfort of God to anyone in need. Often these apostles of love are the only ones who bear hope to those who hunger not so much for food as they do for a human touch.
We can do two things right now. First, let's make a commitment to pray daily for those in consecrated life. The suggested prayer is elsewhere in this bulletin. Secondly, we can show our appreciation by making a good donation today in the Annual Collection for the Retirement Fund for Religious. Our aged Sisters and Brothers worked many decades with the vow of poverty. Now, they need our help. It's our turn to show our love and care for them.