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Celebrating, renewing consecrated life
By Jesse Maldonado

1/31/2012

Photo courtesy of Sister Heloise Cruzat, O.P.

What: The 16th World Day for Consecrated Life.
When: 11 a.m., Sunday, Feb. 5.
Where: Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, 1111 St. Joseph Pkwy.

HOUSTON — Pope John Paul II established the World Day for Consecrated Life in 1997, instituting a day of prayer for sisters, brothers and religious priests.

The annual celebration will be observed in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, Feb. 5. Daniel Cardinal DiNardo will celebrate the 11 a.m. Mass at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart.

With approximately 450 women and 220 men in religious life who serve in a broad variety of ministries in the Archdiocese, the majority of local religious will be honored, if not at the Co-Cathedral, at parishes around Houston.

"It's wonderful to see everyone at the Co-Cathedral, our central church," said Sister Heloise Cruzat, O.P., Vicar for Religious in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. "The Mass is very international, very multicultural. I think it gives anybody who is present during the Mass [a chance] to really be grateful. It's a renewal of commitment."

What the annual celebration also promotes is vocations to the priesthood and religious life, Sister Cruzat said.

"It's a need [for vocations], it gives us visibility. For some people who are at the Co-Cathedral, it gives them a glimmer of understanding of these various ministries that we [priests and religious] do within the Archdiocese," Sister Cruzat said.

Women and men in the Archdiocese belong to 74 different religious groups: 32 priests' groups and 42 groups of religious women. Some of these groups are ancient Orders of the Church (Benedictine, Carmelite, Dominican, Franciscan, Order of Virgins). Others are religious institutes: clerical and apostolic congregations of sisters, brothers and religious priests.

Local religious serve in a variety of ministries as priests, educators and ministers in health care, retreat work and spiritual direction, pastoral care and services among the poor and marginalized.

Last year, in Pope Benedict XVI's homily during the World Day for Consecrated Life celebration, he said, "the consecrated life is called to bear this prophetic witness, linked to its two-fold contemplative and active approach. Indeed consecrated men and women are granted to show the primacy of God, passion for the Gospel practiced as a form of life and proclaimed to the poor and lowliest of the earth."

The U.S. bishops voted to observe the occasion the weekend following the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, Feb. 2.

The celebration is attached to the feast also known as Candlemas Day: a day on which candles are blessed symbolizing Christ who is the light of the world. So too, those in consecrated life are called to reflect the light of Jesus Christ to all peoples. †