The year of consecrated life, a gift of God

By Florence Vinet, SNJM

On February 2, 2016, it will be the end of this very special year. In his apostolic letter, addressed to consecrated persons, Pope Francis reminded us of three objectives which inspired my reflection.

Look at the past with gratitude

He invited each religious family to remember its beginning and its historical development. It was a way to become aware of how the charism has been lived throughout history, what creativity it released and what difficulties it had to overcome. I had the good fortune to participate with other SNJMs on the Pilgrimage of the Heart retreat with Mother Marie-Rose. This experience touched me deeply and led me to look at our SNJM past gratefully.

Live the present with passion

According to Pope Francis, to live the present with passion means to become “experts in communion.” In a consumer society, marked by confrontation and difficulties between people of different cultures, contempt of those who are weak, and inequality, we are called to recognize the dignity of each person to live fraternal relationships. The Year of Consecrated Life makes us question ourselves on our faithfulness in carrying out the mission entrusted to us as SNJM. Even with all the changes I have seen during my apostolic religious life, I am still being called to live my vocation as an educator with passion.

Embrace the future with hope

Currently, difficulties abound: the decrease of vocations, aging, the challenges of internationality and globalization, etc. We must then hope against hope. “Fear not, for I am with you.” (Jer 1,8). This hope is not based on deeds or competency, but on God in whom we trust. It is expressed in the prayer for our next General Chapter with the theme Adventure with the Spirit. “You call us from a future abundant in grace, full of challenge. You invite us to forge new paths and to risk moving forward with the destination uncertain.”

This year of consecrated life was for me an opportunity of renewal and for self-examination. I want to share with you the questions I reflected on. I also invite you to reflect on them and give your comments, if you wish:

  • Following in the path of past generations, what are the values ​​that motivated them and which continue to inspire me in my apostolic religious life?
  • What are the places of disparities and tensions in our world where I can be “expert in communion”?
  • When I think of the future of our Congregation, what hope is inside me personally? How ido I show support towards our younger sisters called to a service of leadership?

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