Religious come together to celebrate World Day for Consecrated Life
FORT WORTH — A day of prayer and fellowship, yes, but also one of solidarity, Father John Perikomalayil, HGN, said of the Feb. 10 World Day for Consecrated Life celebration at St. Patrick Cathedral.
“Meaningful, but more laid back,” the pastor of St. Mary of the Assumption Parish added. “A chance to sit and get to know each other. Seeing the new faces and celebrating together that consecration we have to God.”
Fr. Perikomalayil joined several dozen priests and religious sisters within the Diocese of Fort Worth to pray vespers followed by dinner in the cathedral parish hall.
Feb. 2 marks World Day for Consecrated Life, a day of prayer for women and men in religious life, as instituted by Pope St. John Paul II in 1997.
“In relation to that, each year the diocese gets all the religious to come together to celebrate consecrated life and share community,” Fr. Perikomalayil said. “We [priests] see each other at major events, but this is one of the few times we meet with other religious who are working to support the diocese.”
Father Jonathan Wallis, STL, who serves as vicar general and director of theologian seminarian formation for the diocese, agreed.
“There’s a relaxed formality to the event,” Fr. Wallis said. “But with the purpose of bringing everyone the opportunity to be grateful for the service of so many religious in the diocese. It also gives religious a chance to get to know each other because many times they’re working in their own areas, so it’s nice for them to see and meet others working here for the Church.”
Sister Rosemary Stanton, SSMN, called that aspect one of the day’s most joyful.
“A wonderful event because it gives us the opportunity to be together,” Sr. Rosemary said. “We’re all involved in our ministries and kind of scattered about. So it’s wonderful to see and be reminded of the support from all the other religious communities working out there.”
Sister Maria Gracia Dedinsky of the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary called the event enriching.
Sr. Maria Gracia enjoyed “being able to meet others who have consecrated their lives to God and seeing how manifold the charisms the Holy Spirit inspires in the Church are. That each community has a different mission but, somehow, we’re all united and complement each other in a way that allows the Gospel to reach the furthest ends of the earth.”
It was a day of thanks, too, on the part of the diocese, Fr. Wallis reminded.
“Today’s a tremendous opportunity for us to say, ‘thank you.’” Fr. Wallis told those assembled.
Most are never thanked and simply continue doing what they’re supposed to do, Fr. Wallis added.
“The point I want to make is that I don’t think the spirit of gratitude takes away from our service to Jesus Christ,” Fr. Wallis said. “The idea that if we get thanked our service is lessened as if we’ve already received our reward.
Fr. Wallis spoke of trying times during and following the COVID-19 pandemic, which left many in the diocese who hail from elsewhere unable to visit family or stranded outside the diocese for extensive stretches, as well as the cost and work involved in saying ‘yes’ to Christ.
“Sometimes you need to hear ‘thank you’ for showing up, for serving the Lord faithfully,” Fr. Wallis said. “To hear ‘thank you’ for your, in a way, almost silent and invisible presence.”
He added, “Let us all give thanks to almighty God for our vocation, our call. For the opportunity to serve the Lord Jesus Christ and His Church. And may [tonight’s celebration] be a touchstone for us to review our care and dedication not only for Him, but for each other.”