CLIFTON To honor and in thanksgiving for all the religious sisters, priests and brothers, who serve in various ministries in the Diocese of Paterson, a vesper service was held in St. Philip the Apostle Church here April 2 to mark the diocesan celebration of World Day of Consecrated Life. Pope St. John Paul II instituted this day of prayer for women and men in consecrated life in 1997.
Bishop Serratelli presided at the evening vesper service, which consisted of traditional vesper readings from the Psalms, liturgical hymns and prayers of thanksgiving. The evening began with a procession of the religious representing many of the different orders in the Diocese.
Candles were lit during the renewal of commitment, at which the religious renewed their vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, their love for serving others and that they continue the gift and mission God has given them through consecrated life.
Sister of Christian Charity Joan Daniel Healy, chancellor/delegate for religious, coordinated the evening. Music for the event was led by Sister of Christian Charity Mathilde DeLucy with Preston Dibble, diocesan director of music. The handbell choir of the Sisters of Christian Charity led the prelude before the start of the vesper service.
Presentation Sister Patricia Anastasio, president of the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, whose motherhouse is in New Windsor, N.Y. gave the reflection at the service. She spoke about the recent Year of Mercy and the mission of those in consecrated life to create a culture of mercy.
“As we celebrate our consecrated life today and we reflect on its mystery and its evolution, I can’t help but think about the founders of our congregations, who promoted that culture of mercy. It was clear from their lives that they were step in Scripture and contemplation — especially the Gospel of Matthew 25 — ‘for I was hungry, you gave me food,’ ” said Sister Patricia.
She spoke about the two “spiritual GPS’ ” that point the world to the right direction in which the final destination is the kingdom of God for all his people. The first GPS is the Corporal Works of Mercy and the Spiritual Works of Mercy from all of Jesus’ acts and teachings. The second GPS is the Beatitudes.
Sister Patricia said, “Let us keep the GPS of one and two before our eyes. Let us bring these to contemplation and ask the Spirit to guide us on where to turn next both spiritually and individually. Until the day we breathe our last breath and until the day our last congregation member passes away, we are called to continue God’s mission — for us that is to serve the thirsty, hungry, imprisoned, sick, homeless, ignorant and persecuted.”
During the Prayers of the Faithful, intercessions were offered in different languages representing the cultural richness of those in consecrated life. Prayers were said in English, Spanish, Polish, Tagalog and Italian.
At the close of the celebration, the Bishop reminded the religious about the hope they bring to the world. “A word of gratitude for coming today,” he said. “I am reminded about Gideon in the Old Testament. We should not lose hope. We should be people of hope realizing that the Lord does not work with numbers; he works with those who are faithful. “
“Those who are with God are alive. Our God is a God of life. So the more each of us centers our lives in the person of Jesus Christ, the more the world sees that,” the Bishop said. “The evangelical councils are all about a deepening of your baptismal commitment. They are about getting closer to the Lord and being on fire with him. The more we live that baptismal commitment — poverty, chastity and obedience — the more our love for Christ will be seen by others. Not only in our good works but also in our faces and that will attract young people to our communities and institutes. The world and the Church need you today more than ever and God will not abandon us.”