Archbishop Schnurr meets with young religious
March 29, 2012
What drew you to religious life? What are your hopes? What are the challenges that face religious life today? What role do you see those in religious life and your and congregation having in the New Evangelization and the Year of Faith?
On March 14, 31 newer members to religious life (postulants, novices and temporary professed) along with their formation directors, addressed these questions and others as they gathered for mid-day prayer, lunch and conversation with Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr at St. Gertrude Priory in Madeira. The congregations represented were the Daughters of Mary Immaculate, Dominicans, Franciscans, Marianists, Poor Clares, Sisters of Mercy and Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.
The archbishop opened the conversation by discussing his goal to create a culture of vocations in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. “God calls everyone to be priests, consecrated religious, to be a husband or wife or a dedicated single person,” he said. “The challenge is to discover and then respond to God’s call.”
The archbishop then opened up the conversation asking the women and men religious present what drew them to religious life. The responses included a desire to live in greater harmony with Jesus Christ, dedicating one’s life to service to others and the appeal of living in community.
A number of those gathered spoke of being attracted to religious life through the faith and example of priests, brother and women religious they have met. They also discussed the challenge of drawing younger people to religious life and how to be faithful to the church and solidly rooted in one’s community, history and charism, while also being contemporary.
Also noted was the importance of parents nurturing vocations within the family.
The question also arose regarding the role of the Internet in promoting religious vocations. One Marianist novice said he would not have entered his community if not for the Internet; he had no knowledge of the Marianists before learning about them online. At least half of the new members raised their hand when asked if the websites of religious communities had played a part in them coming to religious life. All agreed that inviting women and men to religious life needs to be a combination of lived experience and the online world.
Pope Benedict XVI has declared a Year of Faith, which will begin in October 2012, the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council with a synod on the New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith also planned. One novice commented that he saw the New Evangelization as problematic because the Catholic Church has been in a “retreat” mode. The group discussed the need for the church to reach out in new ways and emphasized the importance of ongoing faith formation.
Sister of Notre Dame de Namur Marilyn Kerber, director of the archdiocesan Office of Religious who organized the gathering along with Archbishop Schnurr and the various formation directors, said. “The archbishop’s support for consecrated life is palatable. He believes that a bishop needs to be involved in inviting men and women to the priesthood and religious life and he is involved. The newer members were articulate and obviously enjoyed being with one another.”