Church prepares to celebrate contributions of consecrated religious

.- The World Day for Consecrated Life will be observed in the United States on Sunday Feb. 7. The day highlights the contributions of men and women religious and encourages prayers for vocations to the consecrated life.

The worldwide observance is set for Feb. 2 but is scheduled for the following Sunday in the U.S. to allow as much participation as possible, a press release from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) reports.

“The Church is greatly blessed by the many contributions of consecrated men and women, through their ministries in the areas of education, health care, spiritual formation and social service,” said Cardinal Sean O’Malley, a Capuchin Franciscan and chairman of the USCCB Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations.

He particularly acknowledged the service of consecrated women, both those who established past foundations and those who serve today. The cardinal also extended thanks to religious order priests who help to “build up the Church.”

“May this day provide all religious women and men an opportunity to experience a renewal of their vocation and commitment to consecrated life,” Cardinal O’Malley remarked.

The U.S. bishops have deemed the promotion of vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life as one of their five priorities. The USCCB plans to launch a new website on the topic in April.

A traveling exhibit on the contributions of women religious in the U.S. is touring the country. Titled “Women & Spirit,” it opened at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington on Jan. 14 and will be there until April 25. Its website is at http://www.WomenAndSpirit.org.

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