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Father Muench Says...

Religious sisters, brothers: our heroes

Oct. 21, 2015

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Just a little while ago today I was listening to a public radio program about “heroes.” The program involved the stories of many who were suddenly placed in crisis situations and then acted immediately helping, even saving, another.  They actually didn’t consider themselves heroes – but they did what seemed to be the right thing.  Most of us would definitely consider them heroes. 

I want to dedicate this column as an opportunity to honor the dedicate Religious Sisters and Brothers of our Catholic Church during this Year of the Consecrated Life. I truly considered them heroes – true heroes. 
During this year, our Catholic Church has been paying honor and respect and love to all Religious Sisters and Brothers, finding our lead in Pope Francis.  They have consecrated their lives and made our Church strong and alive. These congregations have meant so much to the life of the Catholic Church – everywhere in the world – and today I think in a special way right here in the Diocese of Ogdensburg. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, these Religious Sisters and Brothers have made a profound difference in the lives of many in our parishes, schools and hospitals.

I, personally, know only too well how fantastic is the influence of these Religious Sisters and Brothers.  I have recognized this in the various parishes I have served.  I have found unique support and very good guidance from so many Sisters and Brothers who have served with me in these parishes.What a powerful vocation!  It is a complete consecration to the service of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 

Our Lord says in the Gospels,“I have chosen you, you have not chosen me.”  I am certain that these dedicated Religious – who have consecrated their lives to God – know exactly what this means. It means they will be his and this following of Jesus will mean that there will be challenges and sacrifices; they will walk shrouded in loneliness, amidst multitudes. 

Many will be surprised at what this dedication will accomplish – it will change the world.  They willingly accept the sacrifices, the loneliness, as they consecrate themselves to the Lord.It is about a call.  I was talking with a Religious Sister about her vocation. She spoke of a call.  For her, this call was a longing, a dedication that had become a longing, a longing to do something, a dedication to live a life in the following of Christ, a dedication that came from a deep love of the Lord, a desire to follow Jesus and lead others to the Lord. So, she followed that call – and made that dedication – accepting all the sacrifices to find a happiness in the Lord.

I remember years ago, another young woman – a high school student – coming to visit me one day to talk about vocation. She was a public school student, a member of the parish, and now she was certain she wanted to be a nun, a Religious Sister. Iactually knew she really didn’t even know any Sisters personally.  I did take her over to visit the Sisters who were teaching at the Catholic High School.  By the way, her parents were rather confused by her decision – and opposed it. So, finally, she decided to go onto college.  Her freshman roommate at the college dorm was a young woman who became a good friend.  This roommate had begun to be a volunteer while in high school at the Nursing Home of the Little Sisters of the Poor.  So, my friend, joined her new roommate with regular visits at this Home of the Little Sisters of the Poor and volunteered to help there.  They fell in love with this congregation and found a calling to join them.  And she did.  She entered the Little Sisters of the Poor at the end of that freshman year.

Now – many years later she still is a Little Sister of the Poor and lives a happy life as a dedication Religious.
How to explain all of this – this call – there is no other way than to recognize God’s plan.  So many find a life as a Religious Sister or Brother through the mystery of God’s plan.  How is it possible that everything fits together so well and leads to a happy life of dedication – a mystery.  This life of following the Lord, this life of joy and love with the constant support of the Lord is such a mystery. Can there be a greater miracle of God’s grace?  Indeed, this is vocation – a calling from the Lord.

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