Bishop Deeley Joins Women Religious from Around Maine to Celebrate World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life
“We are all instruments of the Lord, and I am grateful.”
LEWISTON---“Thank you, my dear consecrated women, for coming together today,” said Bishop Robert Deeley. “It gives us an opportunity to express our gratitude for the gift of your vocations and to pray that God will continue to renew his love within each of you.”
Standing in the sanctuary of the Marcotte Chapel at St. Mary’s Residences in Lewiston, the bishop spoke to the over 60 women religious gathered on the World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life (many pictures below), instituted by Saint Pope John Paul II in 1997. It coincides with the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, which commemorates through the blessing and lighting of candles that Christ is the light of the world. Bishop Deeley blessed candles for the women and sprinkled holy water on the assembly at the start of Mass.
Those in consecrated life are called to reflect the light of Jesus Christ to all peoples.
“Jesus’ presentation is a beautiful icon of the total offering of one’s life of all those who are called to show forth in the Church and in the world, by means of the evangelical counsels, ‘the characteristic features of Jesus – the chaste, poor and obedient one.’ Thus, we gather today to honor you who live this consecrated life so vital to the life of the Church,” said Bishop Deeley.
During a special morning Mass in the chapel, the bishop said that St. John Paul II had multiple reasons for deciding to establish the commemoration of World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life: to praise God for the gift of consecrated life, a gift to those to whom it is given and a gift to the Church; to remind people of its existence and call members of the Church to value the commitment; and to honor the commitment of those who are consecrated.
“For all of us, this day is an opportunity to give thanks to God for the call to consecrated life as it is lived out in the lives of each of you we honor today,” said the bishop. “Thank you for your faithful witness. Time and time again, I am moved by the care you give to each other, and the works of your communities.”
The event, which included a luncheon, was organized by Prince of Peace Parish in Lewiston and St. Mary’s Health System and livestreamed to enable those unable to attend in person to join in the celebration.
“There is no question in my mind that I would not be here if it were not for the witness of the women religious who opened my heart to the Gospel,” said Fr. Daniel Greenleaf, pastor of Prince of Peace Parish. “They all remain in my heart.”
“We are honored to collaborate with Prince of Peace Parish to celebrate these amazing women in the varied ways they have served the people of God in Maine and throughout the world. They make the Light of Christ visible and tangible,” said Elizabeth Keene, the vice president of mission integration for St. Mary’s Health System, which was founded by the Sisters of Charity of Ste. Hyacinthe.
Prior to the Mass and meal, some of the sisters offered witness talks about their lives and vocations.
Sister Carol Martin, PFM, was raised in Eagle Lake and was introduced to the Franciscan sisters when her mother began working at Northern Maine General Hospital in Eagle Lake, which the sisters operated. Sister Carol was struck by the sense of community among the sisters. She entered in 1965, professed first vows with the Little Franciscans of Mary in Baie-Saint-Paul, Quebec, in 1968, and professed final vows in 1972. She has served in hospital ministry, as a nutritionist for WIC and Head Start, and at many parishes in pastoral work, including her current role as faith formation coordinator for St. Francis Xavier Church in Winthrop, part of St. Michael Parish.
“I try to spread the Good News of Jesus by simply entering into relationships with people,” said Sister Carol. “I believe this is a form of evangelization.”
Sister Patricia Pora, RSM, served as director of the Diocese of Portland’s Office of Hispanic Ministry for over 15 years, starting in 2005. While growing up in Chile, where her astrophysicist father worked for the Smithsonian, Sister Patricia, a Protestant, attended Mass with her Catholic friends and converted to Catholicism in her early teens. At 16, she came to Maine to finish high school. Patricia first met the Sisters of Mercy when her host family took her for piano lessons to a sister at the Portland convent. She joined the order after she graduated. Sister Patricia has served as a teacher and in hospital ministry as well as spending nearly a dozen years in Peru, ministering with indigenous people in 94 villages, some of which were 14 hours away by mule. Upon returning to Maine, Sister Patricia worked part time at Mercy Hospital while discerning her next ministry. As word spread that the sister who understood Hispanic culture and spoke Spanish was back, she started getting requests for both spiritual and practical help. She soon saw a need and convinced the bishop to start a Hispanic ministry by showing him a census with the growing numbers of Maine’s Hispanic people.
“Hispanic ministry is a ministry of accompaniment,” Sister Patricia told those gathered. “It is a ministry of simply ‘walking with.’ I am grateful to still serve as a volunteer. There are still many things that can be done.”
Doing what can be done continually drives those in consecrated life, including Sister Marie May Lausier, PM, who was celebrating her 69th anniversary of profession on Thursday.
“Love Jesus, teach Jesus, imitate Jesus, and make Jesus known,” said Sister Marie. “We are all instruments of the Lord, and I am grateful.”
“I am happy I was called to religious life,” said Sister Maria Goretti Bernier, OSU, who entered the novitiate in 1953. “It has been wonderful.”
The fidelity to these calls to consecrated life is a flame of hope within the Church.
“Even when your physical condition makes it more difficult to walk the corridors of a hospital or teach a class, you are united in prayer and mutual support for the work of the Church. My simple request for you today is that you continue to be that sign of what the Church is called to be, a community in which the love of God is known and lived in service to others,” said Bishop Deeley. “In you, may we be able to see a witness to the possibility of the mission of Jesus come alive in the communities you form.”