Since the call of the first disciples, some followers of Jesus have sought a different way to live their faith. In the early church groups of widows gathered to dedicate themselves to prayer and good works. Others craved solitary prayer, so they fled to the desert to commune with God and guide others in the pursuit of holiness. Monasteries, cloisters, and religious houses eventually came into being, and religious life as we know it began to take shape.
Pope Francis has called for a special yearlong focus on consecrated life, asking the church’s religious sisters, brothers and priests to “wake up the world” with their testimony of faith, holiness and hope
Consecrated life—in its diverse expressions around the globe—is a gift to the church
and world. Its prayer lifts the entire church. Likewise, good works and the pursuit of justice
shape society to more closely resemble the reign of God. A life of chastity, poverty, and obedience gives powerful witness to faith in Jesus without a word being uttered.
Inspired by the Holy Spirit, religious communities of men and women rise up, serve a
purpose, thrive, and live on or come to an end. This ebb and flow has occurred for 2,000 years
and will continue for millennia to come as new members around the world take vows and join
their lives to communities to live out the gospel in radical ways.
The Ursuline Sisters have been around since our founding by Saint Angela Merici in 1535 in Brescia Italy. This year, The Ursuline Sisters in Youngstown are celebrating 140 years of service in the Mahoning Valley. As part of our celebration, we are visiting various parish communities with an invitation to young Catholics to consider a religious vocation.
“The monuments to the work of the Sisters in imitation of Jesus are not found in buildings or plaques,” observes Sister Mary McCormick, our General Superior. “They are found in the lives of people who have been taught by an Ursuline, who have been touched with a healing word or gesture, who have been comforted by prayer or silent presence, who have been strengthened by these determined women standing with them, advocating for their needs.”
While we remember our heritage with pride and sometimes a little nostalgia, we look to the future. This is indeed the focus of the Year of Consecrated Life.