On the First Sunday of Advent the Year of Consecrated Life began for Catholics worldwide.
This is a time when we can concentrate on getting to know better the various religious communities, especially those in or associated with the Ordinariates, and to remember our members in private vows.
It is also a reminder to us that we should pray regularly for vocations to the Consecrated Life and support those who are trying to discern such a vocation.
Our Ordinariate movement already has quite a significant Consecrated Life element:
- In the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham we have a fully fledged Benedictine community, the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary, at their monastery in Kingstanding, Birmingham. This part of Kingstanding belongs to Blessed John Henry Newman’s Maryvale. Currently there are ten sisters including their superior, Mother Winsome, and the North Birmingham Ordinariate Group is at home at their monastery.
- Then there are the Sisters of Our Lady of Reconciliation, who take their name from the icon of Our Lady of Walsingham which hangs in the Chapel of Reconciliation at the Roman Catholic National Shrine. The sisters, Jane Louise and Wendy Renate, are both on the Walsingham shrine staff and are currently in private vows, because their community now unfortunately numbers less than three.
- The third of the originally three sisters, who all left the Anglican Sisters of Saint Margaret together, is Sister Caroline, who is now a member of the Community of Our Lady of Walsingham. This relatively new Catholic congregation runs a house of spirituality in Brentwood diocese but also has a presence at the Walsingham National Shrine.
- Then there is Sister Barbara Anne, who was a founder member of the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary, but has since decided to join the Benedictine Abbey of St. Cecilia, Ryde, Isle of Wight, whose sisters had hosted the SBVM during the first eight months of their life in the Catholic Church.
- Monsignor Robert Mercer is in a particularly interesting ecumenical situation. His Anglican religious Community of the Resurrection, Mirfield, has agreed to allow him to remain a member, even as a Roman Catholic.
- Then we have solitary religious, one in each of the Ordinariates. There is Brother David in England, Sister Mary Joseph in Canada and Sister Barbara in Australia. While the first two are living their vocation of hermit, Sister Barbara dreams of starting an Ordinariate religious community.
- One religious congregation, which is also part of the Anglican Use, joined the Catholic Church shortly before the establishment of the Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter and is part of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. They are All Saints Sisters.
Our prayer is that these various communities see an increased interest on the part of potential candidates, especially during this Year of Consecrated Life. Young (or not so young) men and women are encouraged to contact the communities themselves or the Ordinariates if they are interested in getting to know or spending some time with our religious.
Any religious order or part of a religious order currently in the Anglican Church who are feeling the call to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church through the Ordinariate are encouraged to pursue this possibility earnestly, especially a male community. I personally look forward to the day when there is perhaps a Regular Third Order Franciscan community in the Ordinariate. We already have a former provincial superior of the secular Third Order in the person of Br. Paul Nicholls in the Oshawa Ordinariate sodality, Canada.
Here is the official prayer for the Year of Consecrated Life, which you are welcome to join us in praying frequently throughout this year: