REGINA — They stood up in order as the name of their community was called, and were recognized by the congregation at St. Martin’s Parish. They represented all the men and women living a consecrated life in the Regina archdiocese. It was the last celebration of the Year of Consecrated Life, which ended Feb 2.
Pope Francis last year wanted consecrated life celebrated in a special way, so he declared most of 2015 and part of 2016 as that special year.
The Regina archdiocese has, for several years, recognized the men and women who live as sisters, including those in secular institutes, brothers, deacons and priests who serve in ministries throughout the archdiocese. The celebration rotates among Regina parishes and this year it came to St. Martin’s, which used its regular 10 a.m. Sunday mass to honour them.
Several sisters carrying slender, colourful banners, took part in the opening procession and deposited the banners, along with others, in containers below the altar steps.
Sister Yvette Plessis, SCSL (Sisters of Charity of St. Louis), following communion and just before mass ended, read out the individual names of communities and asked members of that community to stand and be recognized. She also noted how long the community had been in Saskatchewan and the particular ministry in which they serve.
Marian Grady of the Oblate Missionaries of Mary Immaculate read out the names of the religious order of priests, giving the same information. No priests or deacons were present, with the exception of Rev. Gary Lindenbach, St. Martin’s pastor, who celebrated the mass. It being Sunday, the priests and deacons were serving in their parishes.
The celebration has always been organized by SARA (Sisters Association of Regina Archdiocese). SARA president Sister Theresa Frey, IBVM, said there are 16 religious communities, two secular Institutes and two associations of the faithful serving in the archdiocese. Canon law separates those who take vows, the religious communities, and those who take promises. The two secular institutes are the Oblate Missionaries of Mary Immaculate and the Sisters for Christian Community. There are two associations of the faithful, the Marian Centre Madonna House Apostolate and the Myriam Family of the Prairies. All serve in a variety of ministries in the archdiocese. There is also one person living the eremetical life as a Carmelite solitary. She lives alone in a rural area and was not present.
Most of the religious orders are international and have members all over the world. Frey said most are growing, but almost exclusively in the Third World. The western world is not providing many vocations for consecrated life, and membership in most communities is declining.