Sr. Theresa Kane, RSMArchdiocesan Council of Women Religious (ACWR)
October 14, 2014, Sparkill, NY
The Years of Consecrated Lives:
Comments Upon Advent of Papal Declaration
for the Year of Consecrated Life
Sr. Theresa Kane is currently teaching at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, NY. She resides at Marian Woods, an assisted living facility for women religious. In 1978 she was appointed to deliver words of welcome to Pope John Paul II at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. At the time she was serving as president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).The event received world-wide media coverage. In her remarks she raised the topic of issues pertinent to women including reference to consideration of access by women to all of the ministerial roles in the Church including ordained priesthood. Her remarks were startling and brought on a storm of response on all sides of the issue. Below appear my notes of her remarks at the ACWR meeting.
The presentation as outlined was to include the topics of genesis of the word “consecrated”; how “consecration is to be understood in current conversation”; and important implications for consecrated life including the Second Vatican Council, the role of laity, and the consequences of consecrated life.
Exploration of the origins and use of the term consecration:
· consecration of the host at Eucharist
· consecration of holy ground (cemeteries)
· consecration of bishops
· consecration of religious
· consecration of couples at marriage
· consecration at ordination for priesthood
· consecration in sacraments and blessings (baptism, holy buildings, virginity)
Consecration comes with a blessing. It is the vehicle of covenant resulting in mutual blessing.
Recent history regarding the Apostolic Visitation of congregations of women religious in the United States instituted by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (CICLSAL) was reviewed and it was suggested that declaration of the “Year of Consecrated Life” was an effort on the part of CICLSAL to quietly put that controversy to rest.
Second Vatican Council
The Council did not spring full blown out of the mind of Pope John XXIII. It came from a vision and a spirit of anticipation among scholars and theologians beginning in the 1930s and 1940s. The Council engendered new emphasis on religious ecumenism, religious freedom, participation of the laity as expressed in “Lumen Gentium”, a Council document, and the concept of community replacing the prevalent concept of institution. Where ‘institution’ has features of organization, structure, systems, management, purpose and, in terms of the Church, leadership by a pyramid of hierarchy. In contrast, the concept of ‘community’ presents a discipleship of equals, a spirit of liberalism and the notion that the entire community is consecrated.
Lay people are 90% of the Church community. The movement from the tradition institutional concept to that of community declared a new dignity of inclusion for the vast majority of the People of God.
Consequences of Religious Consecration
The consequences of living a life of religious consecration are a Gospel way of living, service to those most in need and a quality of prophecy.
1. Gospel Way of Living – Consecrated religious life is a valid Spirit-driven life style that does not have its origins in an institution but is lived in parallel to an institution. Since consecrated life is Spirit-driven it can often be in tension with systems of religion especially in areas of business and governance because it is a radical departure from the standard values of society and culture. These values include ownership. Wealth, independence, and lives not determined in an autonomous fashion. The communal stress in consecrated life is a Spirit-driven mystery following the Gospel way of life which requires:
* prayer, solitude and contemplation
2. Apostolic Service – Service to the poor within the context of the belief that “the poor are to be agents of their own destiny” to overcome oppression by both the Church and the government. Choices for ministry reflect a “preferential option for the poor”.
3. Prophecy – Requires contemplation, the courage of one’s convictions, and development of conscience followed by respect for the primacy of personal conscience in discernment.
In this way we atone; we become ‘at one’ with ourselves, in relationship with others, with all of humankind and with all of creation.