COX’S CREEK, Ky. — Forty-two women religious were honored during a Mass celebrating World Day of Consecrated Life Feb. 12 at St. Gregory Church in Cox’s Creek, Ky.
Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre celebrated the Mass for those marking jubilees of 50 to 80 years.
He told his listeners that Jesus calls his followers to live in contrast to all that surrounds them, not in a prideful way, “but in a way that invites others to know God.”
Those living religious life stand in stark contrast to the secular world, he said.
“Your religious vows and long commitment to these vows are an indication of your absolute trust … in the promise God has made to you and the promises you have made to God,” he told the women.
He thanked them for making “a complete gift of themselves to Jesus Christ,” and for answering God’s call to do more.
For Sister of Charity of Nazareth Mary Ninette Manning, who is celebrating 60 years of consecrated life, the call to do more was influenced by her family and the sisters who taught her in Catholic schools.
“I truly felt it was a call to God,” said Sister Manning, who was 18 when she entered religious life. “I was influenced by the sisters, especially those who taught me in school. We had wonderful Sisters of Charity of Nazareth teachers.”
Sister Manning said she was in a class of 50 women who entered religious life. Seven of them celebrated together at the jubilee Mass.
“It’s been very fulfilling,” she said. “I’ve had ups and downs and my classmates helped me tremendously. We’re good friends.”
One of her “classmates” 60 years ago was Sister Mary Anne Burkardt, who said she was 19 when she entered. Both she and Sister Manning said someone encouraged them to consider religious life during their childhood growing up in Catholic elementary and high schools.
“My dad wanted me to be a religious,” Sister Burkardt said. “The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth taught me and talked to me about it. My dad was so proud.”
A study of religious who professed perpetual vows in 2022 found that, like Sisters Burkardt and Manning, 93% were encouraged to consider a vocation to religious life. The study, conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University, also found that nearly half of the respondents (48%) indicated they attended a Catholic elementary school.
St. John Paul II instituted the World Day of Consecrated Life in 1997 to be observed annually on Feb. 2, the feast of the Presentation of the Lord. It is celebrated worldwide on or near that feast day.
All men and women religious in the archdiocese were invited to attend this year’s celebration. During the Mass, those present renewed their vows by reciting a renewal of profession.