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KOTA KINABALU (CS) – The Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu launched the Year of Consecrated Life during the celebration of Mass on the first Sunday of Advent, which was presided by Archbishop John Wong at Sacred Heart Cathedral on 29 Nov 2014.
With him at the altar were priests and deacons from the Cathedral and other parishes. The Eucharist was well attended by members of the religious orders represented in the archdiocese, namely, the La Salle Brothers of the Christian Schools, the Brothers of St Gabriel, the Daughters of St Paul, the Good Shepherds, and the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, as well as other parishioners.
Coinciding with the first Sunday of Advent, this Year for the Consecrated life commences “in the earthly journey of Christian hope that the Lord is with us, guides us, helps us, and sanctifies us,” says the bishop.
The yearlong observance begins on Nov 30, 2014 and concludes with the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple on Feb 2, 2016.
The prelate shared the contents of Pope Francis’ conversation with the Superior Generals at the end of their 82nd General Assembly in Rome last November.
“Religious life ought to promote growth by way of attraction. The Church, therefore, must be attractive. Wake up the world! Be witnesses of a different way of doing things, of acting, of living! It is possible to live differently in the world. it is a question of leaving everything to follow the Lord. Evangelical radicalness is not only for religious: it is demanded of all. It is this witness that I expect of you. Religious should be men and women who are able to wake the world up.”
He quoted the Pope, “You should be real witnesses of a way of doing and acting differently. But in life it is difficult for everything to be clear, precise, outlined neatly. Life is complicated, it consists of grace and sin. He who does not sin is not human. We all make mistakes and we need to recognize our weaknesses. A religious who recognizes himself as weak and a sinner does not negate the witness he is called to give, rather he reinforces it, and this is good for everyone. What I expect of you therefore is to give witness. I want this special witness from religious.”
Speaking with passion, the prelate called on the religious men and women of the archdiocese to embrace Pope Francis’ challenge to be witnesses of a different way of doing things, of acting, of living.
In obedience to the Pope who counts on the support and encouragement of his brother bishops to the consecrated life, he also called on the religious orders to work in close collaboration with the local bishops and clergy.
Meanwhile Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, has emphasized that this special year (2015) has three objectives:
RECENT PAST, REMEMBRANCE OF: “We believe that the [Second Vatican] Council has been a breath of the Spirit not only for the whole Church but, perhaps especially, for the consecrated life…”
FUTURE – EMBRACE WITH HOPE: With this positive outlook on the past, he continued, “we want to ‘embrace the future with hope’— the second objective.
PRESENT – LIVING WITH PASSION: This hope cannot keep us from “living the present with passion” — and this is the third objective of the coming Year. . . . an evangelical focus, helping people to realize “the beauty of following Christ” in the various types of religious vocations.
It is also to mark two key anniversaries, namely the 50th anniversary of the promulgation of Lumen Gentium (the Second Vatican Council’s constitution on the Church), which has a specific chapter dealing with consecrated life, and the 50th anniversary of the publication of the conciliar decree on the renewal of consecrated life Perfectae Caritatis, which will be the occasion of the close of the Year in February 2016.