Light of consecrated life shines brightly during annual Mass and celebration

February 11, 2014

HOUSTON — With hundreds of candles illuminating the worship space, local women and men in consecrated life gathered with Daniel Cardinal DiNardo to celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Feb. 2.

Because this year’s Archdiocesan Celebration of Consecrated Life was held on the actual Feast Day (Candlemas), Cardinal DiNardo asked sisters representing the various religious orders and congregations to carry candles during the entrance procession. 

All in the congregation were also given lighted candles at the start of Mass, a first for the 18th Archdiocesan Celebration of Consecrated Life, according to Sister Heloise Cruzat, Vicar for Religious.

More than 140 consecrated women and men, representing 32 congregations, did not let inclement weather keep them from taking part in the Mass.

“Their attendance on an inhospitable Houston winter day is testimony of the importance of this annual celebration in the lives of our religious,” Sister Cruzat said. “Occurring this year on the Feast of the Presentation, the opening of the liturgy was especially meaningful with the candle procession and blessing ceremony.”

When instituting this annual observance in 1997, Blessed John Paul II chose February 2 — also called Candlemas Day — for worldwide prayer that the light of consecrated life may shine ever more brightly. 

In his address to the Plenary Assembly of the International Union of Superiors General, May 8, 2013, Pope Francis spoke of those who follow Christ’s call to consecrated life as “continuously making an ‘exodus’... in order to centre... life on Christ and on his Gospel.” 

Pope Francis recently announced the upcoming Year of Consecrated Life at a meeting with the Union of Superiors General, noting that the Year will take place in the context of the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican. Consecrated men and women “can wake up the world,” the pope told members of the Union of Superiors General.

In the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, there are approximately 440 women and 205 men in religious life who serve in a broad variety of ministries. Women and men in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston belong to approximately 75 different religious orders or congregations: 33 priests’ groups and 42 groups of religious women. Some of these are ancient Orders of the Church: Benedictine, Carmelite, Dominican, Franciscan, Order of Virgins. Others are religious institutes — clerical and apostolic congregations of sisters, brothers, religious priests. 

Religious in the Archdiocese offer a wide variety of ministries: as priests, as educators, as ministers in health care, retreat work and spiritual direction, catechetical ministry, pastoral care, and services among the homebound, the poor and marginalized. The Discalced Carmelite nuns in New Caney, a small community of contemplative women, offer lives dedicated to prayer for the Church and for all people.

The Year of Consecrated Life is expected to begin in October of this year, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the promulgation of Lumen gentium (the Second Vatican Council’s constitution on the Church), which has a specific chapter dealing with consecrated life. The anniversary of the Council’s decree Perfectae caritatis, will be the occasion of the close of the Year, in November 2015.

Sister Cruzat noted when Pope Francis declared 2015 as the Year of Consecrated Life, he highlighted three objectives – “make a grateful remembrance of the past, embrace the future with hope and live the present with passion.”