To honor the Year of Consecrated Life, religious communities are eagerly opening the doors to their homes and inviting the faithful in to learn about their way of life.
The open house is set from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. April 26 and is open to faithful of all ages. Seven religious communities are participating on that date, with a couple of orders planning to offer an open house on a future date, said Religious Sister of Mercy Sister Sharon Ford, director of consecrated life.
“The open house is an opportunity for people to visit religious and get a sense of what life is like in the different communities,” she said. “We want to welcome people to rejoice with us in gratitude for our call and offer hospitality. It’s one of the ways we are hoping to ‘wake up the world’ to the joy of following Christ through consecrated life.”
Pope Francis called for the Year of Consecrated Life, which began last November and ends Feb. 2, 2016, to awaken the faithful to the gift consecrated men and women are to the Church and to challenge religious to rejoice in the past with gratitude, to look to the future with hope and to live their vocation with fervor. The special year’s theme, “Wake up the world!” aims to exhort all faithful to live the good news of salvation as a joyful, life-transforming event.
“We are very happy to open the doors of our home to share our vocation,” said Mayé Agama, superior of the Marian Community of Reconciliation in Denver. “We want to show everyone that when you follow the call of God, he fills your heart with joy and happiness.”
The Marian Community of Reconciliation is an international community of lay consecrated women, known as fraternas. They make perpetual promises of obedience, celibacy and sharing of goods and live in community. Arriving in Denver from Peru in 1998, they were the first fraternas in the United States. Residing in the former friary at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church on the Auraria campus downtown, they carry out a variety of apostolates in the archdiocese, from journalism to youth ministry.
“We have heard the loving call of God to announce him in the middle of the world,” Agama said describing the fraternas’ charism.
“Come and see us!” she urged. “Pope Francis said, ‘Where there are religious, there is joy,’ so we welcome you for a joyful moment of communion.”
Mother Patricia Mary Metzgar, lsp, administrator for the Little Sisters of the Poor who operate Mullen Home for the Aged Poor in northwest Denver, echoed those sentiments.
“Our Holy Father Pope Francis has asked us to witness to the beauty and value of consecrated life this year, and this is an opportunity to share about our life,” she said.
The charism and ministry of the Little Sisters is that expressed by Jesus in the Beatitudes, she explained.
“Particularly simplicity and humility of heart—hospitality to the aged poor is an expression of our consecration,” she said.
Like the fraternas, the Little Sisters will offer tours. In addition, they will present a slide show on their prayer and ministry, and will talk about their history and answer questions.
“We hope that those who come will see the joy of our community, prayer and apostolic life as Little Sisters of the Poor, called by the Lord to live for him and in him for others,” Mother Metzgar said.
Parishioners of St. Mary in Littleton Angela Urban and her husband Tim, plan to take their five children, ranging in age from 1 to 9, to visit as many religious communities as they can in a “pilgrimage” to mark the Year of Consecrated Life.
“I want our kids to have all the education they can on vocations so they can follow what God is calling them to do,” Angela said. “There is a beautiful connection between marriage and religious life that we’ll talk about as we visit the communities. In both vocations, we give our lives, we make vows or promises, we sacrifice, we serve others.
“I want to emphasize to my kids not only awareness of the religious orders, but also gratitude for them,” she added. “Their example of piety and faithfulness is beautiful. I imagine all those prayers behind closed doors for the Church. We should be so grateful.”
YEAR OF CONSECRATED LIFE OPEN HOUSE
The following religious communities will host an open house from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. April 26:
- Catholic Community of the Beatitudes, 2924 W. 43rd, Denver
- Marian Community of Reconciliation, 1060 S. Francis Way, Denver
- Dominican Sisters of Peace, 3709 Perry St., Denver
- Little Sisters of the Poor, Mullen Home, 3629 W. 29th, Denver
- Missionaries of Charity of Mary Immaculate, 5690 W. 51st, Denver
- Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma, Mich., 1300 S. Steele St., Denver
- Sisters of Loretto, 4000 S. Wadsworth Blvd., Littleton