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Catholic Charities: North Louisiana’s Good Samaritan

by Lucy Medvec Who will you help today? In the parable of the Good Samaritan, we are called by Jesus to go forth and treat our neighbors with mercy, even those we More »

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Bishop’s Reflection: Live in a Way That Embraces Eternal Life

by Bishop Michael G. Duca For I am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the More »

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26th Annual Red Mass Set for May 4 at Holy Trinity

by Jessica Rinaudo & Richard Hiller The Red Mass, which takes place annually at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in May of each year, has become a fixture in the Diocese of Shreveport. More »

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Author and EWTN TV Show Host to Give “Feeding Your Family’s Soul” Workshop in Shreveport

I sat down with Donna-Marie Cooper-O’Boyle, author of Feeding Your Family’s Soul, to talk to her about her book and upcoming workshop in Shreveport on April 28.  Q: What inspired this idea More »

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Loyola Students Memorialize Florida School Shooting Victims

by Lisa Cooper In the wake of the Parkland, FL, school shooting on Ash Wednesday, Loyola students found themselves hurting and desired a way to honor those who were killed. The art More »

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Domestic Church: Facing Fear and Difficulty

by Katie Sciba I had over 20 tabs open online, all of them for rentals within a 50 mile radius. We needed a three-bedroom house for the seven of us, that would More »

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Mike’s Meditations: Good Catholic, Bad Catholic

by Mike Van Vranken There is an interesting story where an official asked Jesus: “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Luke 18:18. Jesus peculiarly responds: “Why do you More »

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The Shroud of Turin: Cathedral to Host Nationally Known Shroud Speaker, Replica Display & Shroud of Turin Podcast Series

by Jessica Rinaudo The Shroud of Turin has long been a source of fascination. The burial shroud of a man who many believe was Jesus Christ has both inspired the faithful around More »

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Fr. David T. Richter’s Legacy to Continue Through Memorial Fund

by Diane Libro Fr. David T. Richter served the Diocese of Shreveport for 29 years with a quiet but fierce passion for God and the Church. Three years after his unexpected death More »

Vatican Releases Papal Coat of Arms, Motto by English Doctor of Church

by Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis’ papal motto is based on the Gospel account of “The Call of St. Matthew,” the tax collector, in a homily given by St. Bede the Venerable. The pope decided to keep his episcopal motto and coat of arms for his pontificate with just a few minor adjustments in line with a papal emblem. For example, the blazon adds the bishop’s miter and the keys of St. Peter. The silver miter was something Pope Benedict XVI established in 2005, putting an end to the three-tiered tiara that, for centuries, had appeared at the top of each pope’s coat of arms. The simple, more modest miter has three gold stripes to mirror order, jurisdiction and magisterium, and a vertical gold band connects the three stripes in the middle to indicate their unity in the same person. The Holy See’s insignia of two crossed keys, which symbolize the powers Christ gave to the Apostle Peter and his successors, is on the new papal coat of arms and has been part of papal emblems for centuries. The papal emblem uses a gold key to represent the power in heaven and a silver key to indicate the spiritual authority of the papacy on earth. The red cord that unites the two keys alludes to the bond between the two powers.

Pope Explains How He Chose St. Francis of Assisi’s Name

by Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis said that “as things got dangerous” in the conclave voting, he was sitting next to his “great friend,” Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes “who comforted me.” When the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio went over the 77 votes needed to become pope, he said, Cardinal Hummes “hugged me, kissed me and said, ‘Don’t forget the poor.’” Pope Francis told thousands of journalists March 16 that he took to heart the words of his friend and chose to be called after St. Francis of Assisi, “the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and protects creation,” the same created world “with which we don’t have such a good relationship.” “How I would like a church that is poor and that is for the poor,” he told the more than 5,000 media representatives who came from around the world for the conclave and his election. The pope acknowledged how difficult it is for many media to cover the church as a spiritual, rather than a political institution, and he offered special thanks “to those who were able to observe and recount these events in the story of the church from the most correct perspective in which they must be read, that of faith.” The church, he said, “is the people of God, the holy people of God, because it is journeying toward an encounter with Jesus Christ.” No one can understand the church without understanding its spiritual purpose, he said. Thanking the reporters for all their hard work, Pope Francis also asked them to continue trying “to discover the true nature of the church and its journey through the world, with its virtues as well as its sins.” Communications, he said, requires study, preparation and a special attention “to truth, goodness and beauty,” which is something the church has in common with journalism.”

Sr. Marilyn Vassallo Returns to NY

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For the past 15 years, Sr. Marilyn Vassallo, a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondolet based just outside of Albany, NY, has served the Diocese of Shreveport in numerous ways. Her primary work has been as Director of Canonical Services, leading the Tribunal and helping those seeking annulments.

Through her ministry in this office, Sister has offered training for Tribunal Lay Advocates, which are now present in every deanery in the Diocese of Shreveport.

Additionally, Sr. Marilyn has served as the Coordinator of Religious, bringing together women and men of all religious orders serving north Louisiana to celebrate their commitment to their respective orders and showcase their jubilees. In addition to maintaining a database of their information, Sister has hosted a bi-annual conference for religious and their superiors to meet with Bishop Michael Duca, as well as facilitated a trip to see a historical religious exhibit in Dallas.

Sister Marilyn is well recognized throughout the diocese for her inspiring retreats and missions – both in our churches and at youth rallies. Most recently, Sister helped to lead two very successful Catholic Women’s Retreats – one at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Shreveport and another at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Ruston. During the retreats she captured the hearts and minds of women of all ages as they learned more about the crucial roles of women in the Bible.

She has also served as a Spiritual Director for our permanent deacons and others in the diocese and taught classes both through Greco Institute and to our current diaconate classes on history of spirituality and methods, marriage preparation, annulments and spiritual formation.

Catholic school children have also enjoyed having Sr. Marilyn in the area, as she has served as a reliable judge at the Religion Scholars Bowl hosted at St. John Berchmans School annually.

After spending more than 19 years in the south, first in Birmingham and then in Shreveport, Sr. Marilyn has decided to move back home to Albany, NY where she will work as a Consultant for Canon Law Professionals and be near her motherhouse, also located just outside of Albany.

As Jill Braniff, Diocesan Finance Officer told the CSJ Newsline, “Sister Marilyn is a true advocate for the laity, especially for women. As a co-worker, she has been a great resource and educator through the more than 10 years we have worked together.”

“Sister Marilyn has made many friends during her 15 years in this diocese and will be sorely missed for her compassion and understanding, her spirituality, her laughter and often challenging discussions,” said Randy Tiller, Director of Mission Effectiveness.

Before her departure, Sr. Marilyn said, “I leave with so much gratitude and love for the people and priests I have had the privilege to serve with.” She added that working in a small diocese has been one of the best parts of her religious life.

The Diocese of Shreveport Tribunal will continue to operate under Judicial Vicar Fr. Peter Mangum, while both Ann Goelden and Ricole Williams will keep operations moving as smoothly as they have in the past.

by Jessica Rinaudo, Editor

Pro-Life Oratory Contest

The National Right to Life is sponsoring its annual Pro-Life Oratory Contest. The competition is open to all high school juniors and seniors, who will address the issues of abortion, infanticide, euthanasia or fetal stem cell research in 5-7 minute oral presentations.

The local contest, now in its 24th year, will be held on Tuesday, April 23, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. at the Catholic Center,  located at 3500 Fairfield Avenue in Shreveport. The contest is open to the public at no charge. The local prizes are: First place – $150 cash, Second place – $100 cash, and Third place – $50 cash. The first place winner will then represent the Shreveport/ Bossier area at the state contest.

The state contest will be held in Baton Rouge. The state prizes are: First place- $500 cash and Second place- $250 cash. The state winner will then represent Louisiana at the national contest.

The national contest will be held in Arlington, VA at the National Right to Life Convention. The national prizes are: First place- $1,000; Second place- $750; Third place- $500; Fourth place- $250. The first place winner will present his or her speech at the National Right to Life Convention banquet.

For additional information and entry blanks, please contact Lacey or Vicki Wallace at 2319 Ashdown Drive, Bossier City, LA  71111 or at (318) 617-1502.

by Vicki Wallace

Encounter Youth Rally

On Saturday March 2, the Encounter Faith Youth Rally was held at the Catholic Center in Shreveport. Musical leader Aaron Thompson captivated his audience with his heartfelt praise and contagious spirit. His musicianship is truly a gift from God as he ministered to us with piano and guitar. It was exciting to see Aaron on stage in front of an audience of nearly 300. Not only was he a great speaker, but Aaron brought a sincere form of worship during the Mass with Bishop Michael Duca.

The breakout sessions were a high point of the day as well. Our own Superintendant of Catholics Schools, Sr. Carol Shively, OSU, addressed one of the most challenging struggles that our children face today: bullying and cyber bullying. Her sessions were specifically targeted to our middle school youth to help prepare them for the world of social media that exists all around them.

Fr. Mark Watson, Pastor of St. Patrick and Sacred Heart churches, reinforced one of our greatest treasures to the students: the Eucharist. Christ with us is always the answer to the obstacles we face in life. Father has a genuinely peaceful disposition that endears him to everyone he meets and he was a great blessing to our lineup.

We explored the scriptures that day with Fr. Joseph Ampatt, pastor of Mary, Queen of Peace Church. His extensive biblical studies and background brought a rich flavor to this session. Scripture study has long been recognized by the Church as essential to grow in Christ. St. Jerome told us that ignorance of scripture is ignorance of Christ.

Works of Mercy were brought to us by Joseph Seyler, a Mental Health Advocacy Attorney with the heart of a Jesuit. Mr. Seyler spent eight years with the Jesuits in Grand Coteau, LA. Well educated in English, philosophy and law, Mr. Seyler shared his great experiences with us.

Our Church Vocations session was brought to us by Vocations Director Fr. Matthew Long and Sr. Margaret Mitchell, Superior for the Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows. Both are uniquely gifted and complemented each other throughout the day as they encouraged our young people to take the time and ask the question, “Is God calling you?”

Pablo Ortega delivered two great sessions, one in English and one in Spanish, to our youth. Not only is Pablo wonderful in his outreach, but his passion is infectious! His second presentation was filled to standing room only. I am ever so thankful for the work he did that day as I am proud of all who gave their time and participated.

None of this would have been possible without the vision and blessing of Bishop Michael Duca. I would like to graciously thank many others as well. The Knights of Columbus (Broadmoor Council No. 3407) provided lunch. I want to especially thank Aaron and all our speakers, our Hispanic Ministry, Blake Royal for his great technical expertise and assistance, all of the support staff from registration to hosting, to the Catholic Center Facilities staff who worked tirelessly to make this day work well. Thanks to all of our youth leaders, workers, chaperones and students that give so much to Christ and this diocese; a great blessing indeed! Thanks to St. Joseph Federal Credit Union for sponsorship, and all the others who brought Encounter Faith to life.

by John Vining, Director of Youth & Young Adult Ministry

Mission Possible: Weekend Adventure Camp for Teen Boys Blends Outdoor Fun and Deep Spirituality

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by Sam Alzheimer, Vianney Vocations

What gets young people engaged in the Church?  Is it a connection with other young Catholics?  Is it a deeper understanding of the faith? What exactly should we do at youth events? Fun stuff? Intensive Bible study?  Pizza? Eucharistic adoration?

These are questions youth ministers have asked themselves for decades. Most believe there has to be a balance of playful camaraderie and rich spiritual content for young people to encounter Christ and find their place in the Church.

To strike that balance, the diocese created Mission Possible, a weekend summer camp for teen boys. It involves heavy doses of outdoor fun with serious prayer, led by our seminarians and Fr. Matthew Long, the youngest priest in our diocese.

Patrick X, a 16-year-old who attended Mission Possible last year with his two brothers, summed up his experience succinctly: “Dude, camp was awesome!”

The draw for teen boys is obvious. One entire afternoon is spent on a high-elements rope course, including a 40-ft tall zip line that sends boys hurtling through the woods. Then there’s the giant “earth ball” used for rough-and-tumble, soccer-style tournaments. A 10,000 sq. foot wooden maze has teams of boys scrambling to find the pieces to solve a giant puzzle. Add in an oversized slip-n-slide and water balloon launchers that can send a balloon the length of a football field, and you’ve got the perfect ingredients for a weekend of all-boy fun.
But the fun is only half the story. Mission Possible is also a boot camp for solid Catholic spirituality. Inspiring talks, solemn Masses and heartfelt rosaries are all part of the weekend. The aim is for boys to deepen their relationship with Christ and help them begin to answer the question, “What is God calling me to do with my life?”

Most parents recognize the need for spiritual training for their sons. As boys mature through adolescence they face serious moral challenges in society.  Many Catholic teens “check out” of the Church after receiving confirmation.  The exodus of college-aged Catholics is well-documented. Thus the high school years are a critical time; teens will either choose Christ or not, run toward the Church or run away from it. For parents who want to encourage their sons to make the Faith their own, Mission Possible is a good choice.

While the camp is sponsored by the Vocations Office, the purpose is not to usher teens right into seminary, said Fr. Matthew Long. “I just want to help young people encounter Christ, whether they’re called to priesthood or to build strong Catholic families in the future. If our young people draw close to Jesus, the priestly vocations will come in time.”

Mission Possible begins Friday afternoon, May 31, and ends on Sunday afternoon, June 2. While there were just 15 attendees at last year’s camp, the diocese is looking to triple that number this year. Plans are also afoot for a girls’ summer camp in 2014.

For more information and to register for Mission Possible, visit www.shreveportvocations.com.

Catholic Charities: Growing with Gabriel’s Closet and the Little Flower League

by Theresa Mormino

The Little Flower League makes St. Therese bracelets.

At Catholic Charities of Shreveport, we will celebrate our third anniversary this August and we are growing.

Gabriel’s Closet, our program to supply young mothers and their infants with the items they need, is adding an “annex” in the room adjacent to its current space where we’ll have more space for classes for our clients to learn infant and child care and safety, as well as fun classes like crochet to offer them a time of fellowship while they learn a new skill and create something for their little one. This newest room will also house a small maternity area with things just for mom, such as a TV so they can watch helpful and informative videos, and a small library.

Talk about growth! We can barely keep up with the demand for St. Therese bracelets, Director Jean Dresley’s special project that began as a small idea has exploded!  So to help keep up with the demand, we are beginning the “Little Flower League,” a group to work one day a week making the bracelets and keyrings. You can get them online now at www.ccshpt.org. They are available for a small donation that you can make online and we will mail them to you. All donations go immediately and directly back into our assistance programs.

We’ve been blessed for the past several weeks to have received publicity through The Times newspaper and KTBS, KSLA, KTLA and KMSS.  All four television stations interviewed members of our staff and some of our clients for stories on immigration and Gabriel’s Closet, and the newspaper printed a story on our programs. It has been a tremendous help to get the word out and allows many more people to learn about us. We have heard from many who wish to volunteer for various programs, those who wanted to give and receive St. Therese bracelets and clients who need our help.

While we grow, we are giving a lot more food from our small pantry to the hungry who come to us in food emergencies. Our pantry could use some help and we could use yours!  There are particular items that go quickly that we would love to restock including: canned tuna and chicken, canned chicken breasts, all types of soups, rice, all kinds of pasta, especially macaroni and spaghetti and all types of boxed dinners. Peanut butter and jelly are good staples to give our clients who have small children. Let us know if you’d like to help in any way. We’d be so glad to have you as part of our team that makes our work possible.

by Theresa Mormino, Catholic Charities

Navigating the Faith: Confirmation

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by Shelly Bole, Director of Catechesis

In order to fully appreciate the Sacrament of Confirmation, we must first understand the symbols of the sacrament and navigate through its history.

Let us begin with the water, with which we bless ourselves upon entering the Church, reminding us of our baptism.  Often the Easter candle or baptismal candles will be used signifying the candle parents (or catechumens) received at baptism. Continuing the theme of baptism, candidates are asked to renew their baptismal promises. The bishop uses the biblical gesture of laying on of hands while invoking the Holy Spirit (Roman Pontifical, pg 66).  The Holy Spirit is the one who confirms as the bishop (agent) asks the Holy Spirit to come upon you through the gifts of the Holy Spirit. And then comes the anointing with Sacred Chrism which is a sign of abundance and joy, healing, radiance,  sealing. As the bishop makes the sign of the Cross on the forehead, he prays, “Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.” At the completion of the Rite of Confirmation (not the Mass), the confirmed are then taken to the altar, to complete their initiation and give thanks to God through the reception of the Holy Eucharist.

From the dawn of Christian history, the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation have been closely associated (Hebrews 6:2),  however, the placement of confirmation has been varied.  In the beginning there was one RITE (celebrated at the Easter Vigil), which was presided over by the bishop and included two events:  baptism and confirmation followed by Holy Eucharist. baptism and confirmation were considered one sacrament of initiation.

As more people desired initiation into the Church, it became more difficult for the bishops to be present at all the parishes and confirmation (not yet a separate sacrament) was moved, so the bishop was the one “laying hands” on the candidates.  By the 5th century, babies received baptism and Eucharist and, at a later rite, the bishop would lay hands and anoint the child. At the 4th Lateran Council, the reception of First Eucharist was moved to between the ages of 7-15, thus restoring to the original order of baptism, confirmation and Eucharist.
During the Council of Trent (1545-1563) confirmation was affirmed as its own sacrament. During his reign, Pope Pius X determined that First Eucharist should be received at the “age of reason”, seven-years-old. This moved confirmation further away from baptism, focusing confirmation on understanding the truths of the Catholic faith and being strengthened to defend the faith. (Holy Trinity Church has a more in depth history of the sacrament www.holytrinity-shreveport.com)

Today the understanding of the Sacrament of Confirmation recognizes that confirmation is the fulfillment of baptism and strengthens one to defend the Catholic faith by accepting the mission of Jesus and the Church, spread the Good News of the Kingdom and be a witness before all the world (Acts 13:31).

True or False: Confirmation is the end of graduation from Religious Education.

FALSE:  “Through the Sacrament of Confirmation, those who have been born anew in baptism receive the inexpressible Gift, the Holy Spirit Himself, by which they are endowed … with special strength, they are ‘bound more intimately to the Church’ and ‘they are more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith both by word and deed as true witnesses of Christ.’ ”

(Pope Paul VI,  Confirmation Official Rite and Commentary 1982)
In order to be a true witness, one must continue to foster an intimate relationship with Jesus  and  learn about the Catholic faith.

True or False:  Confirmation is the completion or fullness of Christian Initiation.  

FALSE:  The Sacrament of Confirmation brings an increase and deepening of baptismal grace; roots us more deeply as children of the Father; unites us more firmly to Christ; increases the gifts of the Holy Spirit within us; renders our bond with the Church more perfect.  (CCC 1303)

Regardless of the order, Holy Eucharist is the completion of Christian Initiation. During the Mass, which celebrates confirmation, the candidates renew their baptismal promises and are confirmed, which propels them to the altar to receive the Eucharist.

True or False:  Confirmation is the occasion of the candidate becoming an adult member of the Church (or a “coming of age”).

FALSE:  Regardless of its placement (baby, child, teen or adult) the theology of the Sacrament stays the same. The laying on of hands and the anointing strengthen the recipient  to “spread and defend the faith by word and action as true witnesses of Christ, to confess the name of Christ boldly and never be ashamed of the Cross.” (CCC 1303)

True or False:  Confirmation is the candidate’s affirmation of personal faith.    

True and False!  (Trick question).  Yes the candidate does affirm their personal belief in the Trinity and the Holy Catholic Church through the renewal of baptismal vows. Through the open reception of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the candidate is charged with using those gifts for the betterment of others and the Church.
“…you receive the gift of the Holy Spirit so that you may work with deep faith and with abiding charity, so that you may help to bring to the world the fruits of reconciliation and peace. Strengthened by the Holy Spirit and his manifold gifts, commit yourselves wholeheartedly to the Church’s  struggle against sin. Strive to be unselfish; try not to be obsessed with material things.  Be active members of the people of God; be reconciled with each other and devoted to the work of justice, which will bring peace on earth.” (Pope John Paul II, homily given on Pentecost Sunday, May 30, 1982).

(Photo:  (CNS photo/Kacper Pempel, Reuters) )

Year of Faith Saint: St. Mother Théodore Guérin, S.P.

Missionary and founder of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods

Théodore Guérin was born October 2, 1784 in Etables, France. At the age of 10, she received her First Holy Communion and announced to the parish priest that she would one day be a nun. At the age of 25 she fulfilled this statement, entering the order of the Sisters of Providence of Ruillé-sur-Loir, whose mission it was to educate children and to care for the poor, sick and dying. While serving at the convent, Théodore was asked to lead a small band of missionary sisters to Indiana in the United States of America. When the sisters arrived, there was only a log cabin with a porch that served as a chapel. Though her health was suffering, Théodore fell to this new task with a will. By the time she died in 1856, Mother Théodore had opened schools in Illinois and throughout Indiana. The sisters were well-established and respected. Through illness, poverty and all manner of unwelcoming circumstances, she trusted in God’s providence and lived as a model of belief in his mercy. She was canonized in 2006, and is known as the patron saint of Indianapolis.
from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Documents of Vatican II: Perfectae Caritatas

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The Decree on the Adaptation and Renewal of Religious Life

by Mike Van Vranken

Shortly after he was elected, Pope Benedict the XVI made the following remarks referring to the Second Vatican Council:  “This very year marks the 40th anniversary of the conclusion of the Council (8 December 1965). As the years have passed, the Conciliar Documents have lost none of their timeliness; indeed, their teachings are proving particularly relevant to the new situation of the Church and the current globalized society.” Based on the Holy Father’s commitment to Vatican II, we now look at one of the shorter but very important documents that was written during the council – The Decree on the Adaptation and Renewal of Religious Life. Its Latin name, Perfectae Caritatis, refers to the quest for “perfect love” and how it can only be achieved by following the teachings and examples of Jesus as found in Sacred Scripture.

Vatican II was the first council to actually write a doctrinal view on religious life; outlining its identity and its place in the Church and the people of God. The result was a new and rich reflection of the modern role of religious life.

It is expressly stated that the good of the Church is the purpose of the document. But, it is more than implied that the good of the Church is also the purpose of religious life.  In short, while religious life is certainly a very personal and individual way to be Christ-like, its purpose is not at all individualistic. Rather, it is more about helping others within the Church by living and teaching as Jesus did.

Interestingly, in Chapter VI of another great document, Lumen Gentium, the Council also presented a Christ-like image of consecrated life. In it, the writers promoted the idea that those in religious life are conformed to the life of worldly detachment that both Jesus and his mother chose for themselves. This document on the Church states: “the Church truly shows forth Christ through them with ever-increasing clarity to believers and unbelievers alike – Christ in contemplation on the mountain, or proclaiming the Kingdom of God to the multitudes, or healing the sick and maimed and converting sinners to a good life, or blessing children and doing good to all men, always in obedience to the will of the Father who sent him” (Lumen Gentium, n. 46).

In Perfectae Caritatis, the same council made clear:  “The members of each Institute, therefore, ought to seek God before all else, and solely; they should join contemplation, by which they cleave to God by mind and heart, to apostolic love, by which they endeavour to be associated with the work of redemption and to spread the Kingdom of God” (n. 5).  In several paragraphs, the need to “return to the sources” was repeated; those sources primarily being Sacred Scripture.  At the same time, each institution or “order” has the responsibility to adapt and change to the conditions of the modern world. One could say the Council fathers displayed a large degree of openness to every form of consecrated life in the Church.

While the document reminds all Religious of their vows of obedience, poverty and chastity, the Document on the Renewal of Religious Life also invited profound changes; changes that sought new ways of living in community and new styles of apostolic service, radically changing its way of being and working in the Church and in the world.

As we pray for vocations to the Religious Life, it is good to read this short document of Vatican II. Our perception of the role of religious communities might be shaped in such a new a dramatic way that will allow us to encourage our youth to pray about and possibly seek a life of consecration to the Lord Jesus.