April 1, 2015
Each of us is called to a deep friendship with God. The consecrated life is a reminder of the ultimate vocation of every person: union with God in love.
This idea is the central theme of Sister Anna Laura Karp’s keynote address at the conference to celebrate the Year of Consecrated Life on April 25.
The special event will be held at McDowell Activity Center on the University of Mary campus south of Bismarck. Sponsored by the diocese, Annunciation Monastery, Sacred Heart Monastery and Assumption Abbey, the conference is free and open to everyone. The schedule will feature two keynote speakers and six breakout sessions with three in the morning and three in the afternoon. Mass, with Bishop Kagan, will be celebrated at the close of the day.
The breakout sessions will be a three-person panel consisting of a religious sister, brother or priest, and layperson. Topics are: poverty and property; chastity and relationships; obedience and authority; prayer and work; stewardship and social justice; and vocations.
Sister Anna Laura Karp, O.P., a member of the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia Congregation of Nashville, Tenn., will be the day’s first speaker at 9 a.m.
Sister Anna Laura says consecrated persons serve as a walking billboard for God’s love in the world, saying by their very lives: “God is real. His love is enough.”
“Consecrated life is a gift that the Lord gives to the world as a concrete sign of his love—a sign or reminder that the infinite happiness we desire can truly be found in friendship with him,” she explains.
She offers her perspective from living a life of a religious sister for the past 18 years, which she describes as “ a tremendous blessing and privilege—and a great adventure.”
“The foundation of my vocation is prayer, and as a religious sister, I am entrusted with praying for the whole world,” she notes. “This is an awesome gift and gives meaning to everything I do: nothing is meaningless, no matter how small, because in union with Christ everything is offered up to the Father for the salvation of others.”
The afternoon keynote speaker, Fr. Roger Landry who is a priest of the Diocese of Fall River, Mass., will begin at 1 p.m. He says he intends to focus on the ten ways every Catholic can spiritually profit from this year of celebration of consecrated life.
“Every ecclesiastical holy year is a time for us to focus on a specific aspect of our faith — like faith, the priesthood, St. Paul, the Eucharist, the Holy Rosary or Mary — that sometimes we can take for granted,” Fr. Landry explains. “In addition to thanking God for the gift of religious sisters, brothers and priests, consecrated virgins, hermits and widows, and members of secular institutes or societies of apostolic life, this special year is a chance for all of to us learn from those living the consecrated life how to take our baptismal consecration more seriously and learn from it.”
As a priest for more than 15 years, Fr. Landry says he tries, with God’s help, to live out his priesthood by imitating many of the aspects and virtues of consecrated life, through imitating the joy, the belonging to God, the continual search for God’s face, the prayer, the community life, the poverty, chastity and obedience, the charity and the living for the kingdom that characterizes so many of our consecrated brothers and sisters.
The purpose of the April 25 event is to give others a greater appreciation for those living the consecrated life. Father Landry points out that when religious sisters and brothers were more abundant, most Catholics had good exposure to the consecrated life. Now many Catholics may not know consecrated men and women personally, not to mention that the various forms of consecrated life have dramatically expanded with the ecclesiastical movements that have arisen over the past century to respond to the needs of the times.
One of the aims of this special year is to familiarize Catholics with the nature of the consecrated life. Events like the special convocation on April 25 give the public a chance to help deepen one’s understanding and exposure.
Sr. Anna Laura insists that everyone can relate to finding his or her vocation on the path to true happiness. “The consecrated person is called to bear witness to the wisdom of the Beatitudes: that happiness does not depend upon wealth, fame, success, or even health but only in receiving God’s love and then pouring out that divine love in concrete ways,” she says. “Consecrated life is a gift to the whole Church, which illumines for all people the way of beatitude, that is, the way of true happiness.”
If you go…
Registration is available online at www.bismarckdiocese.com/consecrated-life. The day begins at 9 a.m. and concludes with Mass at 3:30 p.m. Lunch will be served, and pre-registration is requested in order to provide an accurate count.