By Bishop Alberto Rojas
Dear friends, in 1997, Saint Pope John Paul II called for consecrated life to be promoted throughout the Universal Church, declaring Feb. 2 the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord to be observed as World Day for Consecrated Life. In the United States when Feb. 2 is not a Sunday, we celebrate on a date close to the Feast. For us in the Diocese of San Bernardino, the celebration this year in the parishes of the Diocese will be Feb. 5-6.
As we rejoice and celebrate World Day for Consecrated Life, it is a wonderful opportunity for our people to reflect and thank God for the gift that consecrated life has been and continues to be for the Church. We acknowledge those women and men who have professed their life to God through the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
We think of those religious who have touched our lives, showed us the face of God, let their light shine among us and, in times of doubt and darkness, filled our lives with meaning, purpose and hope. I want to express deep gratitude to the many congregations of men and women of many cultures for their presence and active roles in service and ministry, for decades in our Diocese of San Bernardino.
Lives continue to be transformed, challenged and supported by their faithfulness to vocation, to the charism of their congregations, as we together carry out the Mission of God.
We have been on a long journey – generations long – of growing and building the Church, the Body of Christ among us. This is a Body that keeps changing, as a living body of hopes, dreams, faith and trust, blessed and broken, challenged and strained, yet held together as one in God’s love.
We need a living and loving Church for this third millennial, still new and unfolding in our midst. We need to listen to God so that we may be able to hear the cries of the time. We need to go to the margins, meet the people who no longer journey with us, whose voices are rarely heard, engage them and invite them.
The call to all of us in the upcoming Synodal process is to join in the conversations, prayer and sharing, to listen deeply to what God’s desire is for the Church now. What a blessing the sisters, brothers, priests from a beautiful array of cultures and customs can be as we ALL participate together in this process!
Dear sisters and brothers in consecrated life, we celebrate you! May you have the spirit, health and energy to carry out the mission in joyful hope! May God continue to call many in our Diocese to join you in religious life and priesthood. I assure you of my constant prayers for you. As I congratulate the jubilarians among you, I thank you all for your witness of fidelity, service and joy in living in these challenging times.
God’s peace and blessings to all,
Bishop Alberto Rojas