Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Year of Consecrated Life

The First Sunday of Advent tomorrow will also mark the start of what Pope Francis has designated as a special “Year of Consecrated Life,” which will extend until February 2, 2016. This “Year of Consecrated Life” is intended to highlight the distinctive ministry of religious priests, brothers, and sisters in the larger life of the Church. Hopefully, it will also be a time to invite younger Catholic men and women to consider a vocation to religious life. 

The theme for this “Year of Consecrated Life” will be Wake up the World

The year 2015 will also mark the 50th anniversary of Perfectae Caritatis, the Second Vatican Council’s Decree “On the Renewal of Religious Life”, and Gaudium et Spes, the Council’s “Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World.” Both have had a tremendous impact on the character of religious community life here in the United States and around the world.

It is worth noting that there are presently some 12,389 religious community priests, 52,557 vowed religious sisters, and 4,459 religious brothers in the United States. Those numbers are down from the historic highs of half a century ago, of course. Those numbers also include many who are now retired from full-time ministry, but the numbers still suggest a significant participation by religious communities in the life of the Church in the United States. At no period in its history has the Church in the United States not been significantly impacted by the presence and activity of religious communities, and that still remains the case even today. Of course, one could also certainly say the same for the longer-term story of the Church in the Latin West - since at least the time of Saint Benedict!)

To read Pope Francis message for the year of Consecrated Life, go to

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