In 1997 Pope John Paul II instituted a day of prayer for women and men in consecrated life. This celebration is normally attached to the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord on February 2nd. This Feast is also known as Candlemas Day, the day on which candles are blessed, symbolising Christ who is the light of the world. Men and women in consecrated life are similarly called to reflect the light of Jesus to all people. This is how sisters in Shenstone, Addlestone and London celebrated this special occasion.
In our Archdiocese, we had the celebration on 3rd February. On this day, it has been the norm in our Archdiocese that the sisters who celebrate the Silver, Golden or Diamond Anniversary are given special thought to mark this occasion. This is an occasion when we rejoice and celebrate with all who have reached that wonderful milestone in their lives.
At noon, we had the Eucharist concelebrated by Most Rev Bernard Longley and many other priests. During the Mass, we all renewed our vows of Consecration to the Lord and a special blessing from the Pope was given to all those who were celebrating a special date.
On the 2nd of February, we all went to Worth Abbey to celebrate with other religious men and women. The Mass was celebrated by Bishop Richard Moth and concelebrated by all the Benedictine monks from the Abbey. After the Mass, we were driven by our driver, Pat, to Aylesford to the shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, run by the Carmelite Friars where we prayed together in thanksgiving for the wonderful gift of consecrated life to the Church.
We celebrated this day at Westminster Cathedral, where Cardinal Vincent Nichols spoke this words during the mass: “We thank God for the gifts of consecrated life, not only here in our land, but throughout the world! We too have seen the salvation being brought in Christ. We too see the work of the Holy Spirit, in the countless hours of dedicated prayer; in every work of mission; in the embrace of the poor, of the little ones, in the classrooms, in the hospitals, in the streets. We too can be full of hope because our eyes have seen and continue to see today!”