Solemn Vespers to mark World Day for Consecrated Life

Service is opportunity to give thanks, celebrate those who practice evangelical counsels

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GIFT OF VOCATIONS Dominican Sisters Augusta Nickel (left) and Michaela Martinez were cantors for a February 2011 diocesan Vespers service in honor of consecrated life. Photo by Mary C. Weaver

Bishop Richard F. Stika will preside at Solemn Vespers Sunday, Feb. 10, at Sacred Heart Cathedral to mark the diocesan celebration of World Day for Consecrated Life. The service begins at 4 p.m.

The celebration of World Day for Consecrated Life began in 1997 when Blessed John Paul II instituted a day of prayer for women and men in consecrated life.

His intention was three-fold. First, he wanted to celebrate and give thanks to God for the gift of consecrated life to the Church. Second, he desired to promote the knowledge of and esteem for consecrated life by the entire people of God. Third, he encouraged consecrated people to celebrate together, to rediscover the beauty of their way of life and “to acquire a more vivid consciousness of their irreplaceable mission in the Church and in the world” (Message for First World Day for Consecrated Life, 1997).

Consecrated life is a broad term encompassing all those men and women who practice the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience.

These counsels configure people to Christ, who himself was poor, chaste and obedient. This life is a visible participation in the life of the Trinity. God the Father calls men and women to emulate the life of his Son, Jesus Christ, through the guidance and help of the Holy Spirit.

The ultimate goal of consecrated life is to direct the eyes of the faithful “towards the mystery of the Kingdom of God already at work in history, even as it awaits its full realization in heaven” (Vita Consecrata, 1).

Today, consecrated life exists in many forms: hermits, consecrated virgins and widows, religious life, secular institutes, and societies of apostolic life. While all of these ways of living the evangelical counsels are a gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church, each has its unique form of expression.

The Holy Spirit grants a particular gift, called a charism, to each person and each institute in order to build up the Church. These charisms are visibly expressed in apostolic works and spirituality. Even those institutes completely devoted to contemplation are considered to have a “hidden apostolic fruitfulness” (VC 8) that contributes to the growth of the Church.

The Diocese of Knoxville has 18 communities of consecrated life. All parishioners are asked to join the consecrated men and women of the Diocese of Knoxville in praying in gratitude for the gift of this vocation in the Church.

After the celebration of Solemn Vespers on Feb. 10, there will be a reception in the Sacred Heart School lobby, where parishioners will have an opportunity to meet some of the consecrated men and women in the diocese who are present.

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