Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde's homily May 20 at the
religious sisters' Jubilarian Mass at the Sacred Heart of
Mary Chapel of Marymount University in Arlington had a
message of hope for religious life.
The bishop said that when Pope Francis declared the Year of
Consecrated Life in 2014, he listed three goals: to look to
the past with gratitude, to live the present with passion and
to embrace the future with hope. You could see evidence of
those goals in the community gathered in the chapel.
The Jubilarians, of course, were older. Religious of the
Sacred Heart of Mary Sister Irene Cody was celebrating 70
years of faithful service. She was not at the Mass, rather
staying at her order's provincial home in Tarrytown, N.Y.
Four other sisters were there celebrating anniversaries of 60
and 50 years.
Religious life is not an easy sell in these times.
In a Vatican study released last year there was a stark
finding, "The median age of apostolic women religious in the
United States is in the mid-to-late 70s. The current number
of approximately 50,000 apostolic women religious is a
decline of about 125,000 since the mid-1960s, when the
numbers of religious in the United States had reached their
peak," read the report.
But there is hope, if only on a local level.
One of the pope's goals - to embrace the future with hope -
was visible at the Mass. Scattered throughout the pews were
sisters of a different age - I would guess in their 20s and
They were young, and looked eager to serve the church. They
were also respectful of those women who came before them.
As Catholics we need to pray for not only priestly vocations,
but for religious vocations too.
Read the story of the Jubilee Mass and see more pictures in
next week's Catholic Herald.