This weekend (February 2, to be exact) marks the observance of the World Day for Consecrated Life. To quote the USCCB website:
This celebration is a special time for individual parishes and the greater Church to celebrate the beauty of the consecrated vocation, highlight its various forms, and reflect on the unique Christ-centered witness that consecrated men and women bring to the Church and the surrounding community.
The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) is retained each year by the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations to conduct a survey of those solemnly professed in the United States in the past year. This year’s CARA Study identified 240 men and women religious who professed perpetual vows in 2018. Of these 240 religious, 162 responded with 92 sisters and nuns and 70 brothers and priests participating in the study. Some of the major findings are:
*On average, responding religious report that they were 19 years old when they first considered a vocation to religious life, but half were 18 or younger when they first did so.
*Eucharistic Adoration, retreats, and the rosary are the most common types of formative prayer experiences, reported by two-thirds of religious of the Profession Class of 2018. Nearly six in ten reported participating in spiritual direction.
*Of those surveyed, 23% of respondents earned a graduate degree before entering their religious institute. More than 71% entered their religious institute with at least a bachelor’s degree (65% for women and 79% for men).
Approximately two weeks ago, Fr. Rich arranged for several Mercedarian sisters of the Blessed Sacrament to come and address the men and women in the R.C.I. A. (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults). Their institute was founded in Mexico City by the Venerable Maria del Refugio Aguilar in 1910, and they work largely in education. The local community is situated at Our Lady of Mount Carmel West in Cleveland.
One of the RCIA participants later described them as some of the happiest women he has ever encountered. While it is very likely that a quite significant percentage of our parishioners— or members of many parishes in fact— have never actually encountered a man or woman in consecrated life in person, it is still important that we hold out this vocation as a possibility that is still being embraced in our day and age.
Here is a Prayer to Know One’s Vocation:
Lord, my God and my loving Father, you have made me to know you, to love you, to serve you, and thereby to find and to fulfill my deepest longings. I know that you are in all things, and that every path can lead me to you.
But of them all, there is one especially by which you want me to come to you. Since I will do what you want of me, I pray you, send your Holy Spirit to me: into my mind, to show me what you want of me; into my heart, to give me the determination to do it, and to do it with all my love, with all my mind, and with all of my strength right to the end. Jesus, I trust in you. Amen.