On Sunday, February 4, 2024, St. Francis Assisi Church in West Nyack, New York, hosted a mass and brunch for the religious Sisters and Brothers in Rockland County to celebrate Vita Consecrata. Many of the Sisters present took part in the liturgical celebration and with support from the pastor, Fr. Bob McKeon, Sister Pat Hogan, OP, and a spirited group of parishioners, a memorable gathering followed.
Vita Consecrata translates to “The Consecrated Life.” In 1997, Pope John Paul II instituted a day of prayer for women and men living the consecrated life to take place on February 2--the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, forty days after Jesus’s birth when he was consecrated according to Jewish custom.
In her reflection, Sister Michaela Connolly of the Blauvelt Sisters of Saint Dominic highlighted the significant contributions the eleven Congregations have made in Rockland County. These Congregations listed in chronological service order are:
- Sisters of Saint Dominic of Blauvelt, New York
- Dominican Sisters of Sparkill, New York
- Sisters of Charity of New York
- Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth from Convent Station, New Jersey
- Sisters of St. Zita in Monsey, New York
- Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate in Sloatsburg, New York
- Sisters of Our Lady of Christian Doctrine, Nyack, New York
- Salesians of Don Bosco, New York
- Augustinian Recollects of the Order of St. Augustine, Suffern, New York
- Franciscan Sisters of Peace, Haverstraw, New York
- Sisters of Life, New York
In addition to living by the three evangelical counsels for religious life (poverty, chastity, and obedience), each Congregation has a particular charism or way of channeling God’s Holy Spirit. Through their mission and ministries, each group has engaged with the universal Church in a unique and life-giving way.
Although the median age of many local religious members is high, serving the Church in religious life remains part of a much larger reality that spans the globe with more than 608,000 religious Sisters and 49,000 religious Brothers.
Sister Michaela reminded those gathered of Pope Saint John Paul II’s words: “We believe we have not only a glorious history to remember and recount but a great history still to be accomplished.” Additionally, in 2014, she cited Pope Francis who challenged those living a consecrated life, “To live the present with passion.”