So many of us, or at least those near my age and older, have had the experience of being taught in Catholic schools by members of religious orders or congregations. The women and men religious have had a very profound impact in the life of the Catholic Church all throughout her history. In fact, their unique contribution to the church since apostolic times has helped form the church and Catholic Institutions into what they are today. The church is eternally grateful.
One doesn’t have to look far to see the impact these women and men have made in the Diocese of Rapid City throughout our history. The religious communities who are currently serving our diocese include Jesuits Fathers and Brothers, Sacred Heart Fathers, the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, Benedictine Sisters of St. Martin Monastery, School Sisters of Notre Dame, the Congregation of Notre Dame, Franciscan Sisters, Dominican Sisters, and Sisters of Christian Charity. Many orders have served in the past, as well, including Redemptorists, Holy Cross Sisters, Marist Fathers and Brothers, Oblate Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, Sisters of St. Joseph, Sisters of the Living Word, Sisters of Mercy, Benedictine Fathers and Brothers, Benedictine Sisters from Yankton and Bismarck, Daughters of Charity, Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Sisters of the Living Word, Paraclete Fathers, Third Order Regular Franciscan Fathers, Xaverian Brothers, Sisters of the Divine Savior, Sacred Heart Brothers, and School Sisters of St. Francis.
Our diocese has been very blessed for the service and ministry provided by these women and men. Their unique and special form of Christian discipleship has always been a sign to the world of how they have been chosen to imitate Christ more closely through the profession of the evangelical counsels — chastity, poverty, and obedience. These religious men and women in consecrated life, men and women who are part of secular institutes, consecrated virgins, and hermits give witness to the presence of Christ in the world as they bring his compassion and love to those in need, and their lives of prayer help sustain Christ’s mission in the world.
Almost 50 years following the Second Vatican Council’s decree on the Adaptation and Renewal of Religious Life, Perfectae Caritatis, Pope Francis has convoked the Year for Consecrated Life with the aim of expressing the “beauty and preciousness of this unique form” of Christian discipleship. The Year for Consecrated Life began on November 30, the first Sunday of Advent, and concludes on February 2, 2016, World Day of Prayer of Consecrated Life.
In invoking this special Year, Pope Francis issued a challenge to consecrated men and women, inviting them to lives of courage, communion and joy. The Holy Father “wanted to dedicate the year 2015 to consecrated men and women of the whole church,” who have been called by the Lord “to a life (that is) closer to the God of Love, by means of evangelical councils.”
Pope Francis, on the occasion of this Year of Consecrated Life, will also grant plenary indulgences, with the customary conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer in keeping with the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff) to all members of the institutes of consecrated life and other truly repentant faithful moved by a spirit of charity, again, starting from the first Sunday of Advent this year until February 2, 2016, the day of the closure of the Year of Consecrated Life. The indulgence may also be offered for departed souls in Purgatory.
Indulgences may be obtained:
sIn Rome, in participation in the international meetings and celebrations established in the calendar of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life, and pious reflection on for a suitable period of time, concluding with the Lord’s Prayer, the Profession of Faith in any legitimate approved form, and invocations of the Virgin Mary;
sIn all the particular churches, during the days devoted to consecrated life in the diocese, and during diocesan celebrations organized for the Year of Consecrated Life, by visiting the cathedral or another sacred place designated with the consent of the Ordinary of the place, or a convent church or oratory of a cloistered monastery, and publicly reciting the Liturgy of the Hours or through spending a suitable period of time of devout reflection, concluding with the Lord’s Prayer, the Profession of Faith in any legitimate approved form, and pious invocations of the Virgin Mary.
Members of the Institutes of Consecrated Life who, on account of ill health or other serious reasons are prevented from visiting these sacred places, may nonetheless receive Plenary Indulgence if, completely detached from any type of sin and with the intention of being able to fulfill the three usual conditions as soon as possible, devoutly carry out the spiritual visit and offer their illness and the hardships of their life to God the merciful through Mary, with the addition of the prayers as above.
The Diocese of Rapid City will celebrate this Year of Consecrated Life in various ways. More information will be provided in the future. As we enter into the Year of Consecrated Life, please pray for all those who have made commitments to the consecrated life, and be sure to thank them for their generosity to the church. May they continue to be inspired by Jesus Christ, be led by the Holy Spirit to be a leaven in the world, and respond generously to God’s gift of their vocations.
On behalf of the whole diocese, I thank all of the men and women religious, consecrated virgins, and those who are part of secular institutes for your faithful witness to the joy of the Gospel. May God continue to bless your vocation abundantly!
Prayer for the Year of
O God, throughout the ages you have called women and men to pursue lives of perfect charity through the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience. During this Year of Consecrated Life, we give you thanks for these courageous witnesses of Faith and models of inspiration. Their pursuit of holy lives teaches us to make a more perfect offering of ourselves to you. Continue to enrich your Church by calling forth sons and daughters who, having found the pearl of great price, treasure the Kingdom of Heaven above all things. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life And Vocations www.usccb.org/cclv or www.usccb.org
© 2014, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Logo courtesy of National Religious Vocation Conference. Used with permission.