Year of Consecrated Life comes to conclusionWednesday, February 3, 2016
On the World Day for Consecrated Life, February 2, 2016, Pope Francis closed the Year of Consecrated Life, while presiding at the concluding Mass in Saint Peter’s Basilica on February 2, 2016. In his homily, he recalled that every form of consecrated life, “each according to its characteristics,” is “called to be in a permanent state of mission, sharing ‘The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the people of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted'” (Pastoral Constitution of the Second Vatican Council on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes, 1).
In November 2013, the Holy Father had announced this special year which he said was to be an opportunity to celebrate and reflect on the unique and important role of consecrated life in the Church. Celebrations began on the First Sunday of Advent, November 29, 2014. Across Canada, dioceses, eparchies, and institutes of consecrated life celebrated the year with special liturgies and various gatherings. Consecrated life refers to all men and women who vow or promise to consecrate their lives to God, in order to give a unique public witness as members of religious institutes, secular institutes, and consecrated virgins.
As part of the national celebrations, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) invited the Canadian Religious Conference (CRC) to establish a joint committee to prepare resources and a key Canadian event to celebrate the Year for Consecrated Life. The highlight was the celebration on September 17, 2015, with over 1,500 persons in consecrated life joining the Bishops of Canada at Saint Joseph’s Oratory, Montreal, for a Mass of Thanksgiving. During the celebration, a joint message was issued by the then President of the CCCB, the Most Reverend Paul-André Durocher, Archbishop of Gatineau, and the President of the CRC, Sister Rita Larivée, S.S.A. The letter is entitled Celebrating and giving thanks for the gift of consecrated life – Letter to all the members of the Church for the Year of Consecrated Life. As well, a prayer to mark the Year of Consecrated Life was released by the joint committee, which in addition to representatives from religious institutes also included a representative from a secular institute and also from a new ecclesial movement.
Throughout the Year of Consecrated Life, the CCCB has also published various resources on the life and spirituality of Canadian Saints and Blesseds who lived the consecrated life. The CCCB English Sector Office for Evangelization and Catechesis has developed catechetical resources on these witnesses of the faith.