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Consecrated Life Mass celebrates women and men religious

‘A cumulative 1,765 years of union with and witness to the poor, chaste and obedient Christ’

May 1, 2015
Christina Gray

In his homily as celebrant of the Consecrated Life Mass on April 26 honoring the nearly 700 women and men religious of the archdiocese, Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone described their lives as “perfect charity in union with witness to Christ.”

The Consecrated Life Mass pays annual homage to sisters, brothers and priests celebrating milestone anniversaries, called jubilees. With two 25-year, two 35-year, three 40-year, nine 50-year, 10 60-year and five 70-year jubilarians present, the archbishop said the Mass “represents a cumulative total of 1,765 years of union with and witness to the poor, chaste and obedient Christ.”

Five 75-year jubilarians were honored but not present.

This year’s Mass, reception and luncheon at St. Mary’s Cathedral held special context this year in what Pope Francis designated The Year of Consecrated Life.

“A radical approach is required of all Christians, but religious persons are called upon to follow the Lord in a special way: They are men and women who can awaken the world,” the pope said last year after his declaration.

The archbishop reminded those present at the Mass that women and men religious have been and always will be at the heart of the history of the archdiocese and the city of San Francisco itself.

“Franciscan friars first preached the Gospel here and established the mission from which San Francisco takes its name,” he said. The city’s first Catholic schools, colleges, hospitals and orphanages were established by sisters, brothers and priests who “left everything dear to them – home, family, country – to carry out the great commission of the risen Christ.”

“And you my dear religious, continue to do so today, in ways both old and new,” the archbishop said, noting those who have worked in education, health care, and service to the poor have, and will continue to meet new challenges, such as the scourge of HIV/AIDS, the needs of immigrants and the horrors of human trafficking.

“The city and entire Bay Area have benefited enormously from this face of God’s mercy translated into concrete reality by the services provided by consecrated religious,” he said. “This world would be a very different place, and a much sadder place, without you.”

The archbishop noted that as crucial as this service is, “ultimately it is not what religious men and women do but why you do it that really makes the difference.”

“Whatever practical good has been done, is being done, and will be done by religious women and men in the archdiocese, your greatest contribution remains the witness of your consecrated life,” he said.

A life of freely chosen poverty, chastity and obedience remains a mystery, especially to those “whose horizons are defined by this present world.”

“Many people admire what you do, but they are puzzled, or even scandalized by why you do it – as disciples of Jesus Christ,” he said.

The archbishop called each relationship with Christ, “profoundly personal” but also ecclesial, as it is lived out within Christ’s body, the Church.

“May many of our young people be inspired by the joyful gift of your lives in service to God and others so that they, too, will experience the exhilaration of leaving all things to follow Christ,” he said.

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