Religious renew their vows at Mass for World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life. Photo by Darren Boon
SINGAPORE – Praying the Divine Office, receiving the Eucharist, and spending time alone with God brings joy to Sister Florence Wong, FMDM.
The Franciscan Missionary of the Divine Motherhood revealed that the love, support and forgiveness from her community enabled her to do mission work such as serving people at the Palestine Hospital following the 1967 Arab/Israeli War.
Sister Florence shared this among her fellow religious Brothers and Sisters, and the 600 people gathered for evening Mass to celebrate the World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life at Novena Church on Feb 2.
In his homily, Redemptorist Vice-Provincial Father Patrick Massang said that the Catholic Church in Singapore has been blessed by “rich human resources” who had been pioneers in education and medical services.
Although the term ‘consecrated’ does not appeal to young people, religious life is a “radical” way to live out the Gospel values that commit to the love of God by observing poverty, chastity and obedience, he said.
“The religious life will continue to flourish due to various needs of the society and Church,” Father Massang added.
The programme for the religious began in late afternoon as they gathered in small groups to share their experiences of consecrated life.
Canossian Provincial Leader Sister Marilyn Lim shared about her Buddhist mother’s encouragement and support for her mission, such as, when she donated money to buy a goat to help support a project to provide a livelihood to poor families in the lowest caste (the ‘untouchables’) in India.
Several religious spoke to CatholicNews about their joys of living their consecrated life.
For Infant Jesus Sister Celine Low who sits on the IJ schools management board and provides formation and spiritual direction, what brings her joy is God’s fidelity to her and the simple living of consecrated life.
Sister Celine was touched by Redemptorist Father Gino Henriques’ account of praying for the healing of a man who, though non-Christian, believed in Jesus. She was also moved by the sharing of a fellow religious Sister on mission who was given a crucifix without the left hand of Jesus – representing the trials she would face.
Franciscan Friar Xavier Chung finds joy from living in a community with people of different personalities and backgrounds with the common intention to serve others.
Sharing among the religious is helpful as they discussed issues such as overcoming loneliness through prayer, said Brother Xavier.
He added that sharing also provides encouragement, empowerment and support by seeing one another’s growth that will help him live out his religious life.
The late Pope John Paul II instituted Feb 2 as “World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life” for the Church to appreciate those who have chosen to follow Christ through the consecrated life and for the religious to renew their commitment and fervour in their vocation.
By Darren Boon