A simple gold band on her left ring finger reminds Religious Sister of Mercy Mary Sean Crimmins that her first and only love has been Jesus Christ for 65 years.
“A little old lady asked me about my ring, and I told her I have been married to God,” Sister Crimmins said. “I was able to explain to her that while some people view being a nun as an escape from life that it really is about a strong, life time commitment to Jesus Christ.”
Sister Crimmins was among 13 sisters recognized by Archbishop Samuel Aquila during a Mass opening the Year of Consecrated Life Nov. 30 at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. Pope Francis designated the yearlong focus on consecrated life and challenged the Church’s religious sisters, brothers and priests to “wake up the world” with their testimony of faith, holiness and hope.
The 13 nuns—who have dedicated their lives to the Church from 25 to 70 years—have served in many areas during their time with the Archdiocese of Denver, including teaching, health care and migrant outreach.
“There is a real joy in being called to live a selfless life,” said Sister of Charity of Leavenworth Bernadette Teasdale, who has been a sister for 60 years. “The Lord works through us and allows us to experience the joys of seeing other people grow.”
Archbishop Aquila recalled his childhood growing up in a Catholic school that had more than 1,000 students taught by only 24 nuns.
“It was an incredible group of young women who filled our lives with joy and taught us and helped us fall in love with Christ,” Aquila told the congregation, reminding them to keep the consecrated in their prayers.
The Mass was the first Sunday of Advent, which celebrates the first coming of Christ and preparation for the second coming of Christ, Aquila said.
“The Lord is expecting us to be ready and be watchful; to be those who proclaim Christ because we truly do not know when that day will come,” he said. “And that is true also to our own personal death because that too is a second coming of sorts for Christ. We should always be ready for death because we do not know when that will come.”
The archbishop reminded the sisters, brothers and priests—and the Catholic community at large—to be proud of Jesus Christ and introduce him to others like a husband would introduce his wife or parents their children.
“If Jesus Christ is our first love we will want to share him with everybody, with every person we meet,” Archbishop Aquila said.
Franciscan Sister Rosa Suazo has shared Christ during her 61 years as a nun and her work ministering to migrant workers in Colorado.
“I helped get clothes and shoes and drove them to doctors’ appointments,” Sister Suazo recalled. “I helped interpret for them. Many went on to be successful and their children went to college.”
Dominican novices and Capuchin Friars celebrated as altar servers at the Mass. Several communities of religious orders attended including Carmelites, Dominicans, Franciscans, Poor Clares and Missionaries of Charity.
“I’m excited about the Year of Consecrated Life because it calls attention to this physical life where we are called to serve the Kingdom of God,” said Capuchin Brother Jason Moore, 35, who is studying to be a priest.
Brother Moore was planning to be a doctor when he heard a “cry from God” to join religious life.
For Franciscan Sister Cecilia Linenbrink, her calling came 70 years ago when she was a young woman.
“God is so good,” she said. “I have so much gratitude for life.”
The Year of Consecrated Life runs through Feb. 2, 2016.