A Mass for consecrated life

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In 2013, Pope Francis proclaimed that a Year of Consecrated Life be observed from Nov. 30, 2014, to Feb. 2, 2016. In a letter to those living a consecrated life, the pope said that there were three aims for the year: to look to the past with gratitude, to live in the present with passion and to embrace the future.

The Arlington Diocese honored those consecrated men and women Feb. 7 with a Mass celebrated by Bishop Paul S. Loverde at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington and assisted by Cistercian Abbot Robert Barnes of Our Lady of the Holy Cross Abbey in Berryville and Deacons James Van de Voorde and Brian Majewski.

In his opening remarks, the bishop expressed the gratitude of the diocese for "the great gift of consecrated life."

Oblate Father Mark S. Mealey, vicar general for administration and moderator of the curia, was the homilist who said that those living the consecrated life are called by Pope Francis to renew ourselves in the spirit of our mission.

"We need to read the signs of the times and find new ways to bring our gifts to others," he said.

After Mass concluded, Bishop Loverde again expressed the gratitude of the diocese for the work of those living the consecrated life. He read the names of religious orders serving in the diocese.

"(You have the) deepest gratitude of my heart," said the bishop.

Apostle of Jesus Father Peter Odhiambo Okola, parochial vicar at Holy Spirit Church in Annandale, was at the Mass with his regional superior, Father Augustine Idra.

"It was a great effort to celebrate the consecrated life," said Father Okola. "You can see the gift of the Holy Spirit."

Benedictine Sister Charlotte Lange echoed those sentiments.

"It was a wonderful Mass," she said. "It was lovely to see everyone praying together."

As people left the cathedral, ushers passed out a card printed with the prayer for the Year of Consecrated Life.

"During this Year of Consecrated Life," read the card, "we give you thanks for these courageous witnesses of faith and models of inspiration."

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015