We are approximately 436 canonical religious, 8 non-canonical members, 3 consecrated virgins and 1 secular institute member that minister in the four counties of the Diocese of Trenton. We represent membership in 49 male/female religious congregations who have dedicated our lives to announce and proclaim the word of the Lord.
The family and consecrated life
A message by Sister Rose McDermott, SSJ
It is interesting to note that the Year of Consecrated Life beginning Nov. 30, 2014, and concluding Feb. 2, 2016, coincides with the eighth World Meeting of Families and Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia this September 2015. Ask any brother, sister or priest living a vocation to consecrated life and they will advise you that family life cultivated the seed of their vocation. Early on they experienced the self-donation of their parents to one another and their children in numerous ways in their homes.
As these youngsters entered the broader society, the witness of men and women living consecrated life fostered and nurtured the seed. Youth encountered these men and women as they served the Church by their own manner of self-sacrifice, not to a spouse and children of their own, but to Christ and his people, as they witnessed lives of prayer and apostolic service in education, healthcare, social services and missionary activities, both in the Church and throughout the world.
Witnessing to Christ and called to a particular form of consecrated life, these women and men profess lives of chastity, poverty and obedience. They sacrifice the love of a spouse and the gift of children in order to serve wherever assigned in obedience to their respective superiors. They live lives of dependence and labor in accord with the evangelical poverty of their societies or institutes. In other words, they live a more intense baptismal life closely following Christ in prayer, announcing the kingdom of God, doing good to people, and living among the poor in the world – but always doing the will of the Father.
Today, there is a serious scarcity of vocations to consecrated life and many reasons are cited: secularism, materialism, rugged individualism, promiscuity, innumerable professional options for young men and women, and lack of knowledge regarding consecrated life. However, we might reflect on what members of institutes and societies of consecrated life advise – that family life, the domestic Church, first nurtured the seed of their vocation. The witness of their parents sacrificing for each other and their children prompted imitation and generous self-donation.
As the world prepares to celebrate family life this fall and youngsters observe such outstanding examples of consecrated life in our Holy Father Francis (a member the Society of Jesus) and our own diocesan Bishop David O’Connell (a member of the Congregation of the Mission), we may once again experience an increase in vocations to consecrated life. Examples of spousal love, sacrifice, understanding, patience, generosity and deeply committed lives of faith and morals on the part of parents witness values that foster a thoroughly Christian lifestyle and prepare young generous hearts for a positive response to the call of Christ.
Let us continue to pray for vocations to consecrated life, but pray also for an increase of stable families and dedicated parents, the primary educators of their children who cultivate seeds of goodness and generosity that mature into vocations of witness and service to the Church and society.
St. Joseph SisterRose McDermott, is the diocesan delegate for religious, serving in the Ministry of Consecrated Life.