Beaming with Blessings of Consecration
Delighting in the Light of Christ, 32 Religious Sisters gathered at Holy Family Home on February 2, 2023, for the World Day of Prayer for Women and Men in Consecrated Life, instituted by Pope Saint John Paul II in 1997. This celebration is attached to the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord on February 2 – AKA Candlemas Day – the day on which candles are blessed. Our Chaplain, Father James Sullivan, in his homily in the morning, brought out the appropriateness of associating candles with lives consecrated to Christ, burning with the Flame of the Spirit. The wick of their calling gives them purpose. Like the wax, they are totally consumed (no half measures!) to radiate the light and warmth of God’s Love. Indeed, Father noted, “Candlemas Day and Consecrated Life find their meaning and purpose in the Presentation of Our Lord, the Light of the World.” Likewise, in his message for this “Feast of the Encounter” on February 2nd, Pope Francis chose the theme of “Brothers and Sisters for the Mission,” praying that the Virgin Mary obtain the grace that the lives of consecrated persons always be a feast of the encounter with Christ, that they may bring the light of His love to everyone: His light, not theirs!
With all this in mind, the Philadelphia Community of Little Sisters of the Poor invited their friends, Sisters of various Religious Congregations, to come to their Chapel for an Hour of Adoration and Thanksgiving for their vocation, followed by sharing feast-and-fun on this, “their day.” Some of the invitees had never met each other. All, nevertheless, as they mixed and mingled mission stories, were dazzled by the Light of Christ reflected through the rich variety of charisms. It was an authentic feast of encounter!
After dinner, a lively discussion arose during a trivia game highlighting Consecrated Life in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Three teams were challenged with questions like: Who were the first Religious Sisters to come to Philadelphia? Who are the latest arrivals in the Archdiocese? Which communities were founded right here in Philadelphia? Who was the divorced woman from Philadelphia who founded a Congregation of Women? Do we have many Canonical Hermits? How many communities of Brothers are there? How many Consecrated Virgins? etc. The final guess was: Where did we find the answers to all these questions? The answer was not in the Catholic Directory or on Google, but, more precisely, from Sister Gabrielle Mary Braccio, our Delegate for Consecrated Life in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia! Sister Gabrielle was unable to attend because of the General Chapter in Alma Michigan, but graciously supplied the trivia for our game.
Beaming with the blessings of consecration, all departed with door prizes and winnings from the trivia. The Missionaries of Charity would bring the extra food from the meal to the homeless in North Philly. But, best of all, we all left our feast of encounter with increased enthusiasm for our mission—to welcome the Light of Christ in our hearts and to radiate it to all we encounter.