Saint John Paul II inaugurated the first World Day for Consecrated Life on the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord in 1997. His reason for doing so was threefold. Firstly, he desired it to be a day where the whole Church would thank God for “the great gift of consecrated life, which enriches and gladdens the Christian Community by the multiplicity of its charisms and by the edifying fruits of so many lives totally given to the cause of the Kingdom.” (Message for World Day for Consecrated Life, 1997) Secondly, he expressed his hope that this day would “promote a knowledge of and esteem for the consecrated life by the entire people of God.” (Message for World Day for Consecrated Life, 1997) Thirdly, he yearned that consecrated persons “will be helped by the celebration of this annual World Day to return to the sources of their vocation, to take stock of their own lives, to confirm the commitment of their own consecration.” (Message for World Day for Consecrated Life, 1997)
Twenty-six years on this threefold purpose of World Day for Consecrated Life is as relevant now as it was back then. Firstly, as a Diocese let us give thanks to God for the religious women and men who live among us. I am thinking in particular of the Sisters of Mercy, The Franciscan Missionaries of the Divine Motherhood, The Carmelite Community at the Abbey in Loughrea and the Redemptorist Community at Esker. Secondly, although, many of our communities of religious are ageing, the religious way of life remains a noble vocation. As their numbers decrease, our Diocesan community appreciates their presence even more. I am convinced that, when the time is right, the Spirit will not only renew old forms of religious life but will also inspire new forms and new ways of living a consecrated life. Thirdly, today allows each consecrated person a space to return to the springtime of their vocation, to the day they took their first vows and to discover once again the joy of a life consecrated to God. It also provides an opportunity for each religious community to reflect on their unique charism and how it is lived out in our world today.
I express the thanks of the Diocese of Clonfert to our religious for your dedicated lives in the service of the Gospel and your practical witness among us to the presence and goodness of God who always walks with us on life’s journey.