BLOOMFIELD – Men and women whom Pope Francis described as “a gift for the people of God on a journey” gathered on Oct. 17 to celebrate their lives and the years of dedication given by honorees among them.
See additional photos at www.zenfolio.com/thecatholictranscript/p360099005
The Celebration of Consecrated Life within the Archdiocese of Hartford took the form of a Mass in the chapel of the Archdiocesan Center at St. Thomas Seminary. Archbishop Leonard P. Blair was the principal celebrant. A reception followed. Four men and women religious were honored for marking significant anniversaries.
The honorees were Sister of Notre Dame Ann Marie Strileckis, ceebrating 50 years; Sister Frances Elisabeth McKay, of the Little Sisters of the Poor, marking 60 years; Sister Mary Elizabeth Endee, of the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist, celebrating 25 years; and Holy Cross Brother Joseph Walsh, marking 50 years.
The event was sponsored by the Archdiocese of Hartford’s Office for Religious.
About 120 men and women from 14 religious communities throughout the archdiocese attended this year’s gathering of consecrated men and women.
The archbishop’s homily focused on Mark 10:35-45, in which James and John demand to sit on either side of Jesus in seats of glory.
“Consider,” said the archbishop, “how astonished Jesus must have been at the apostles’ naïveté, at how they were demanding this,” he said, “without the cross, demanding to share in the Resurrection without bearing the radical demands of the cross.”
He recognized the self-sacrifice and endurance demanded every day of those who live the vows of a consecrated life.
“Now anyone,” said the archbishop, “who sincerely tries to live the consecration of baptism in any of the Christian states of life will know by experience that following Christ can be an ordeal, not in a morbid sense, but in the sense that every day we must die a little more to ourselves.
“We must die to our egotism, to our way of doing things, in obedience to God’s way.
“We know that we are a contradiction to the world. We must also die to the temptations of the age in which we live, so filled with infidelity, the rejection of God and the exultation of self and self-searching.”
After the liturgy, Sister Mariette Moan of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, archdiocesan vicar for religious, called the honorees by name as the archbishop administered a special blessing.
In her remarks at the reception that followed, Sister Mariette noted that the closing date of the Year of Consecrated Life, Feb. 2, 2016, is approaching, but that Pope Francis’ “great commission to us to ‘wake up the world’ will be ongoing.
“Let us recommit ourselves to his church universal, to our presence and ministry here in the archdiocese and to each other.”
Archbishop Blair then said that the Year of Mercy ahead will serve as a fitting complement to the Year of Consecrated Life, as exemplified by the religious women and men of the archdiocese. “I can’t imagine the church without you,” he told the sisters and brothers present before bestowing a final blessing.
Honoree Sister Ann Marie Strileckis, perhaps summed it up best.
“It really was a very joyous occasion to see so many different congregations of people all working for the same cause but all doing different types of work,” she said. “Everyone seemed to enjoy just being here and being with one another. It was joyous.”