Instituted by Pope Saint John Paul II in 1997, the celebration of World Day for Consecrated Life coincides with the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord on February 2nd when Jesus is presented in the Temple 40 days after his birth.
How to make this day a special day in our lives in order to thank the men and women who devoted their entire lives to our Church and to all of us?
“When we were living in France,” say Eva and Bertrand, “we were part of St Nicolas des Champs parish and local Community in Paris. There were about 120 Community brothers and sisters attached to this parish, and we were blessed with several priests and consecrated sisters. Each year, we had a special celebration of the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus, making this feast an occasion to also celebrate consecrated life. Often, we would have a gathering with Mass and would pray particularly for our consecrated brothers and sisters and our priests, and for vocations. Once, it was the day chosen for a new consecrated sister to take her first step and enter into training.”
Eva and Bertrand moved to Boston in 2016 with their 4 daughters, joining our local Emmanuel Community. So this year, they decided to do the same – and maybe start a tradition – in Boston. First they invited Father Sean Maher, pastor at St. Francis Church in Dracut, and member of the Emmanuel Community, for dinner. Then they asked every member of our two households to join and pray for our priests and consecrated brothers and sisters. They also enjoined us to invite priests or consecrated persons that we knew in the Boston area. Within just a few days, the idea launched by Eva and Bertrand became a reality and we had five priests coming! Among the priests, three of them were members or the Society of Jesus and one was attached to St Mary’s Church of Winchester. They all came from different parts of the world: Cameroun, Congo, Ireland, Quebec and Rwanda.
“Consecrated life is a living encounter with the Lord in his people. It is a call to the faithful obedience of daily life and to the unexpected surprises from the Spirit. It is a vision of what we need to embrace in order to experience joy: Jesus” –Pope Francis, Homily on February 2, 2019
We all gathered at Eva and Bertrand’s house in Cambridge, starting with aperitif – another friendly tradition! – during which we warmly thanked our priests for their consecration and their service to the people of God. Then we had praise together, another way to show our gratitude and pray together. The dinner was an opportunity for us to learn more about their daily lives and to have a fraternal sharing. They also could meet each other and discuss together in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. For all of us, it was a moment of great joy.
On this Feast of the Presentation of Jesus, let us express our love and gratitude to all our priests and consecrated brother and sisters for their gift for the whole Church!
Eva & Ingrid (MA)