Wednesday, April 22, 2015

“Wake Up the World!”

Sr. Mary Margaret Tapang, PDDM
On February 8, 2015 the religious of the Diocese of Fresno gathered at the Sacred Heart Parish in Fresno to celebrate the World Day of Consecrated Life. It was a beautiful morning freshened by some gentle rain. The Sisters arrived early to greet the parishioners, to socialize and also to display vocation materials. There were 70 Sisters from 25 congregations and institutes who participated in the Children/Life Teen Mass presided by Bishop Armando Ochoa and concelebrated by the parish priest Rev. Alejandro Ignacio, the Diocesan Director of Vocations, Rev. Dan Avila, and the homilist Rev. Larry Toschi, OSJ, from Bakersfield. The Mass was vibrant, but solemn, and well animated by a talented youth choir and various ministers. This was followed by delightful potluck meal at Nazareth House.

At the Opening Rite of the Mass, the Vicar for Religious, Sr. Invencion Canas, RAD, reiterated Pope Francis’ appeal to religious men and women to “wake up the world” with their testimony of faith, holiness and hope … with “prophetic and countercultural witness.” She also reminded us of the purpose of the World Day of Consecrated Life that was instituted by Saint John Paul II in 1997. Indeed, the diocesan event brought us closer to this threefold goal:

1. THANSGIVING: To thank the Lord for the gift of consecrated life: What could be a better way than the Eucharist? As the Sisters were entering the church during the solemn entrance procession, one parishioner clapped his hands and exclaimed, “Thank you, Sisters! Thank you, Sisters!” I was deeply moved. The act of thanksgiving was directed not only to God, but also to the Sisters, whose consecrated life enriches and gladdens the Church with manifold gifts or “charisms” and by various expressions of apostolic charity and service.

2. FORMATION: To promote knowledge of and esteem for the consecrated life by the entire People of God: The homily of Fr. Toschi explained the meaning of consecrated life, the various vocation materials available for diffusion, and above all, the vision of 70 Sisters in the sanctuary–in full force. We all renewed our religious vows before the assembly, which positively impacted the parish community. That Sunday at Sacred Heart Parish was a formative moment not only for the parishioners, but likewise for the Sisters, highlighting the value of consecrated life. As we renewed our vows publicly, we felt the “beauty and holiness” of our vocation shining through and we prayed to be what we promised.

3. RENEWAL: To invite the religious to celebrate what marvels the Lord has accomplished in them, to discover by a more illumined faith the rays of divine beauty spread by the Spirit in their way of life, and to acquire a more vivid consciousness of their irreplaceable mission in the Church and in the world: The Sisters look forward to this annual event knowing that our journeying together brings enrichment, encouragement and mutual support. Through the “mysticism of encounter” with the Bishop, the clergy, the religious and the parish laity, we are able “to embrace the future with hope”.

The following remark of Sr. Mary Eugenia Pia, PDDM, sums up the meaning of the celebration:
I’m sure to interpret the sentiments of gratitude of my Sisters in community as well as those in our diocese by thanking our Bishop Armando Ochoa for the initiative of celebrating the Mass for the World Day of Consecrated Life in a different parish every year. This year we joined the people of the Sacred Heart Parish for their 11 o’clock Mass on Sunday, February 8. The church was packed with youth groups and families … and the people looked so excited and happy to participate with all the religious. For me this way of celebrating together is one of the best vocational advertisements of our “witness.”

Let us continue to pray, work and enjoy together, according to our charism, by witnessing the “JOY OF THE GOSPEL” for we are signs of love and hope in today’s world, as Pope Francis encourages us!
Fr. Alberione envisioned the Cooperators praying for religious vocations, encouraging them, sponsoring them, and enjoying heaven with them. Is there still something you can do to make this vision a reality?
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Sr. Mary Margaret Tapang, PDDM, finished her B.S. Pre-Medicine at the University of the Philippines and made her religious profession in the PDDM on December 8, 1984. She studied Liturgy at the Pontifical Liturgical Institute (St. Anselm) in Rome and was the Liturgy Coordinator (Program and Events Committee) during the World Youth Day ’95 in Manila. Now based in Fresno, she continues to prepare the Lectio Divina pastoral tools that could be accessed on their website: www.pddm.us. She is a recipient of the Pope’s award: Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice.

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