Aug 06, 2005
You know that I write a lot about vocations to the priesthood. This year especially, with the extraordinary number of changes in priestly assignments caused by our smaller numbers, has made the increasingly fewer members of our archdiocesan priestly community abundantly clear. By Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick.
(Catholic Standard, July 28, 2005) Thanks be to God, the truth is that we are doing much better than most of the dioceses in our country. As a matter of fact, we have more than 60 seminarians. Relying on God's Providence, we trust that the future will see greater numbers of young men and those not so young entering the seminary and, indeed, next year's class of ordination may well more than double the numbers ordained this year.
And so now I want to write you about vocations to religious life and in particular to religious communities of women. (I promise to do a column in the near future about religious Brothers whose special vocation to teaching and to works of charity continue to make a profound contribution to holiness and apostolic life in this Archdiocese of Washington.)
The other day, I became so strikingly aware of women religious as I celebrated Mass in the cathedral on my birthday and had the blessing of the presence of dozens of Sisters who had come to pray with me and to wish me well. There were many young Sisters whose joyful smiles and enthusiasm for a life of service to the Lord was apparent and beautiful, and even catching in its joyful vigor. I recall the days of my own youth - yes, I can still remember - when many nuns of many congregations exemplified the life of our Church and its powerful call to the vows of religious life.
Those days are not over!
A couple of years ago, a number of young women approached me with the idea of establishing a diocesan community of women here in Washington, which would serve the faithful of this archdiocese. I talk a lot about the diocesan priesthood, and they presented the idea of a Diocesan Sisterhood, a group of women with the vows of religious life, living in community, praying together and accepting whatever apostolic mission the Archdiocese of Washington might require. We spoke of them going into campus ministry, pastoral service in the parishes, teaching in Catholic schools, parish visitations and of the myriad other forms of service that could be undertaken by this group.
Two years ago, seven single women began to meet together to test this idea. It is my hope that sometime in the fall, some of them will begin living together in community while each continues her own work for a while until a program of novitiate can be established. They are teachers, social workers, professional women of different fields, but they enter with the hope of discerning God's Will for them, and my prayer is that it will take the form of a new religious congregation in due time.
For young women who might sense the Lord's call to serve either in a new way, such as I have described, or in any of the many wonderful religious communities of Sisters already serving in this Archdiocese of Washington, I invite you to write me here at my office in the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center. I will put you in contact with our already established religious congregations or with the young women in this new adventure of grace, as you request.
Thinking of you and of God's wondrous grace that abounds here in this local Church of ours, I pray that many will hear His Voice and answer, "Yes, Lord, here I am!"