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Bishop Burbidge leads the annual convocation of religious sisters

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A lot can happen in a year. The religious sisters in the Diocese of Arlington, including eight new or returning sisters, had the opportunity to share developments from their respective communities, and hear the latest diocesan news, from Bishop Michael F. Burbidge at the annual convocation for religious sisters at St. Agnes Church in Arlington Sept. 14.

Bishop Burbidge shared with the sisters the policies and procedures implemented for the transparency of bishops in light of the church scandals.

"But in the midst of all the crisis, we had 13 men enter the seminary. Most people think it's unheard of," he said. "We don't want to miss these signs of hope. At a time of such crisis, men are willing to step forward. You know it is not for personal gain because it is not a popular thing to do, but they are hearing that call to step forward.”

Benedictine Sister Joanna Burley, prioress, said the Benedictines are focusing their energy on trying to build a new monastery in Bristow, with 75 percent of the fundraising goal met.

“This year focuses on renewing our monastic heart,” she said. “Our effort is focused on what it means to be a monastic religious woman at this time in Virginia, and who we will be. It is an exciting time for us.”

Bishop Burbidge said it seems like all the communities are experiencing a renewal of monastic life. “It’s where we are in the church. The Lord is calling us, and the way he is going to renew, transform and transfigure his church is through this commitment and integrity to life, and faithfulness to all that he has promised,” he said. “If anything, this time in our church has brought us to our knees, really, and to get back to that recommitment of our charisms and our vocation promises and all that we pledge to the Lord. So it’s very beautiful to hear such a witness here among this group and certainly my prayers are with you in your communities.”

Sister, Servant of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Elizabeth Goltman said her community focuses on education. They are working with people in Peru, teaching them English. “It’s been a big influence in preparing young women to move into secretarial work because they are bilingual,” she said.

Following the discussion, Bishop Burbidge celebrated Mass.

"On this day we gather, how important it is for us, no matter how young or old we are, to remember that Jesus has called us by name and entrusted to us a unique and special vocation,” he said. “Unless we are convinced of that personal love the Lord has for us, we will treat him as a passing acquaintance and not as an intimate friend. May all of us spend time this day reflecting upon the meaning and implications of having been called by name."


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019